Young Indigenous women from across the Pilbara took to the runway on Friday night to dazzle audiences and showcase the skills acquired from two weeks of workshops while competing for a spot in the finals. The Pilbara Girl heat, combined with the Kimberley and Goldfields regions, saw 17 contestants take to the catwalk in front of judges and onlookers while modelling garments and accessories made by local designers. The young women — ranging in age from 16 to 23 — had recently completed the program’s workshops, which aim to build participants’ confidence in public speaking, goal setting, leadership, modelling and other personal development habits. In a short film made during the workshops and screened at the show, the contestants introduced themselves and discussed what they hope to achieve in their lives and what they plan to do if they win Pilbara Girl. Answers varied from wanting to become doctors, teachers, or professional sport players, while also hoping to make a difference in their community and family by becoming a positive role model. Social issues such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide were also brought up by the young women in an effort to raise awareness and advocate for community-led programs to help diminish these issues. Fifteen finalists were called out and each handed a bouquet of Australian native flowers before doing one last lap of the catwalk before next week’s last show. Since starting in 2004, the program has seen hundreds of young women participate in the workshops and transform themselves — building their resilience and setting themselves up with positive life skills. Pilbara Girl 2021 winner Samantha Hawkins, 24, was one of the many former contestants to volunteer their time and mentor the girls in the workshops. “This program needs support and funding to keep going for our community — (the program) been going for 20 years,” she said. “We need more good people to volunteer and step up into these roles to make sure that all of our young Indigenous women are still able to participate and grow and see all of the pathways that can be opened up.” The Pilbara Girl finals will be held on October 6 with tickets available on the Goolarri Media website.