Michele inspires others by reflecting on her own experiences—the road less travelled. According to author Martin Flanagan, ‘She is the travel agent who got away.’
After a career in the travel industry, Michele left the corporate world to venture into the unknown. She began by studying anthropology, politics and Spanish at Monash University, and ended up in El Salvador during civil war.
At first she wondered if the world had gone mad. The military pervaded. Human rights abuses were rife. Fear, like bombs and armaments, had become the norm. Yet in spite of the suffering, she discovered the extraordinary spirit and resilience of ordinary people and communities.
Michele returned to El Salvador for two years, after the war, where she worked with communities in war-affected areas. ‘I had been so inspired by the iconic Australian Weary Dunlop who believed that the strong have an obligation to look after the weak, that the healthy have to look after the sick.’
After her Central American sojourn, she became part of the RedR Australia team, training professionals to work in international humanitarian situations.
In 1999, while working at The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, Michele suffered a back injury. Life as she had known it disappeared. She was no longer able to work, drive, swim or even sit at the football. With the stripping away of so many certainties around which she had constructed her identity, she began to reflect on who she really was. And what mattered.
Writing, she discovered, was not only a way of dealing with pain, but an excellent way to reflect. In 2002, she was awarded a mentorship for emerging writers. Michele’s first book, 700 Days in El Salvador, a memoir, was published in Australia in 2006. She was then commissioned to co-author Peter Kennedy: the man who threatened Rome. In 2015, her latest book, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, was published. It’s a personal mother-daughter story in which dementia plays a leading role.
Her health has improved, and Michele has learnt to live within her limits—joyfully. She is also thankful that through enforced time out she developed her writing, often writing personal human stories (and travel) for magazines and newspapers.
Michele also worked part-time, until 2014, teaching adult migrants and refugees English as an Additional Language. She encourages people writing in their second, third or fourth language to express themselves clearly and simply, and supports them to tell their stories in their own voice.
Michele’s passion for writing and storytelling could not be quelled. In 2014, she returned to writing full-time, regularly contributing, as an essayist, to Eureka Street magazine (when it was in print form). Her articles also appear in major Australian newspapers and magazines. One of her first features received a national press high commendation.
For almost two decades Michele has been a non-fiction freelance writer, focusing on personal human stories. Artists, musicians, aid workers, refugees, business entrepreneurs, people with HIV/AIDS, tank commanders, politicians, religious leaders, and the occasional rock star, have all sat down to tell her their tales.
Michele’s writing is thought provoking and inspiring; so too her public speaking, which she has done across Australia, the USA and Canada.
Since writing her second memoir, Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me, Michele has been working with some of Australia’s top entrepreneurs, writing, or helping them write, their life story, memoir, biography or business book. She has also written family histories and the history of community groups.
‘I really enjoy working with people who are ready to get their story and their message onto the page,’ says Michele.
One of Michele's other delights is children’s literature. Her first children’s book, Gladys and Stripey: two little fish on one BIG adventure, was released in 2023.
Michele is based in Melbourne, where she grew up. She loves the mountains, the sea, swimming, dancing, her football team, sunshine and warm balmy evenings.