Shantelle Thompson

Name, Do you have a nickname, name you prefer to be known by? Barkindji Warrior

Affiliation, Gym / Organization you represent  Absolute MMA and Maromba Academy Australia

My name is Shantelle Thompson, I am 33, a proud Barkindji/AngloSaxon woman, a mother to 3 amazingly beautiful children Nacinta 10, Jaida and Soane 7 (Twins), and I hold many roles in my life. I come from a complicated and challenging childhood with experiences of low socio-economic upbringing, family violence, sexual abuse, racism, helping to raise younger siblings and learning to walk between worlds and never quite fitting into any. I have also fought to stand tall and proud in my truth, in who I am and to fight to help others.

I now walk the path of life hand in hand with my life partner George who stands with me in this journey of life. We share our 3 beautiful children. In 2010 I attempted to commit suicide before I was diagnosed with Post-natal Depression after the birth of my twins in 2009. I was in a very dark and challenging place. However, I reached out for support to my partner and some close friends and we decided that the right path for me was to go back to work (my partner become the home parent) and to find an avenue to challenge my negative energy. I began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu late 2010 and it saved my life. In 2011 I entered my first competition and I was in love. Then in 2012 after 2 years of successful competition I began to ask myself if more was possible. Then a dream whispered in my ear ‘I could be a world champion’, and at first I ignored my dream. But it grew stronger and stronger and eventually I grew the courage to listen and we moved to Melbourne in 2013 to pursue our dreams.

The first year of 2013 was very challenging for my family and I living away from country, our families and adjusting to living in the city with our 3 young children and the new training regime. In time we become accustomed the demands and flow of our new lives. I competed in my first international competition in 2013 at the IBJJF No Gi world championships and I lost first round. I was devastated to have lost but came home with a new perspective and ready to work hard again. I missed out on competing internationally in 2014 due to financial restraints, it was not until 2015 that I got another shot at competing internationally again.

I want to take one step back, in 2014 I meet Tina West through jiu-jitsu and we become friends straight away. We recognized the inner warrior that walks within both of us. It was through a mutual friend of ours that I found about the unique and powerful work that Tina does as a spiritual healer and guide. Initially I was scared and dubious if this was the right path for me. Eventually my struggles on and off the BJJ mats and my curiosity got the better of me and I reached out to Tina. The work I have done with Tina in this time has been painful, cleansing, deep, transformative and healing. When I spoke with Tina about competing at the 2016 IBJJF World Championships we spoke the potential of using this competition to trial the new ‘athlete program’ that Tina and Sheila where developing. I was very excited for this opportunity, as I already knew how powerful the work that Tina and I had done together was. Six weeks out from the competition I started the ‘athlete program’ and I was also given my own songs to use on a daily basis. I utilized these tools in my daily regime and on the day I competed I used my pre-comp routine and the tools given to me by Tina and Sheila. When I stepped onto the mats I felt composed, excited, present and ready. I went on to win my 2nd world title at Purple belt. I am now a x2 world champion in BJJ, a brown belt and I have also tried out for the 2016 Olympics in freestyle wrestling and I am a member of the National Australia team.



  • The only difference between training and competition is the environment changes
  • Don’t count the days, make the days count
  • Train with purpose, consistent effort, reflect daily and have fun.

I wish I knew / hints and tips

  • How to visualise
  • How to eat to fuel my body and gain optimum energy and recovery
  • How to balance my life on and off the mats



Barkindji Warrior (Athlete career)

  • 2016 IBJJF Purple Belt Super Heavy Champion – world champion
  • Brown Belt
  • Australian National wrestling Champion – 75kg Freestyle
  • Oceania Champion – Freestyle 75kg
  • Qualified Australian National Team – Freestyle wrestling
  • Competed – 2016 Oceania/Africana Olympic wrestling qualifiers


Current Employment

June 2016 – Current

National Stolen Generation Alliance

Victorian State Coordinator




  • Graduate Certificate – Indigenous Trauma and Recovery (University of Wollongong) 2016
  • We-Ali Aunty Judy Atikinson – Trauma and Recovery workshop (2015)
  • Australian Childhood Foundation – Trauma and Recovery workshop (2015)
  • First Aid
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (secondary) (2013)
  • Full Drivers Licence
  • Certificate 2 in Hospitality Operations (2005)
  • Crowd Controller and Security Guard Licence
  • Working with Children’s Check WWC


Achievements in Sport

  • X2 World Champion in Brazilian Jiu Jistu – 2015, 2016
  • Brown Belt – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • X2 Australian National Champion – Freestyle Wrestling
  • National Australian Wrestling team athlete 2016
  • Oceania Champion – Freestyle Wrestling 2016
  • Competed – Oceania/Africana Olympic Qualifiers (Algeria) 2016


Awards – Sport


  • Victorian NAIDOC Sports person of the Year – 2016
  • Leader Newspaper – Leader Sports of the year (Melbourne) 2016
  • Maromba/Absolute – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competitor of the Year 2016
  • Competitor of the Year – Team Takedown 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Athlete of the Year 2013 NAIDOC awards – Mallee District Health Services
  • Finalist – Mallee Sports Person of the Year 2013
  • Mallee Sports of the Month – February 2012
  • Winner – Mallee Sports Indigenous Sports person of the Year 2011/2012
  • Finalist – Mallee Sports Person of Year 2012
  • Female student of the Year – Maromba 2012
  • Female Grappler of the Year – Mildura Martial Arts 2011


Awards – Other


  • Aunty Glennis Murray and Aunty Francis Bond Reconciliation Award (2016) – Woor Dungin
  • AMP Tomorrow Maker Grant – 2015 Grant recipient
  • Newsboy Foundation – Community leadership Award 2014
  • Mary McKillop Scholarship – 2014
  • ESS Sports Performance – Athlete Development Scholarship 2013
  • Semi-finalist – Victorian Young Achiever Awards – sports 2012
  • Governor General Indigenous Teaching Scholarship – Victorian Recipient 2011
  • Wannik Teaching Scholarship – 2011

Beyond grateful for this opportunity. To be recognized by my community, is to be empowered and given a platform to share my voice and truth… Thank you to National NAIDOC and Aunty Pam Pederson for the nomination and being selected. Thank you to every single person who has contributed ajd supported my journey, big and small. This one is dedicated to my Nana T and my children, Nacinta, Jaida and Soane… For you I honor this and I will keep climbing. #indigenousexcellence #dreamsdocometrue #sportswomen#womeninsport #womeninbusiness #voice #courage #jiujitsu #bjj #sport#storyteller #speaker #resilience #mentalwellness

‘Barkindji Warrior’- Shantelle Thompson is the 2019 National NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year👏🏽

After developing post-natal depression following the birth of her twins, Shantelle began Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training in 2011 as a form of physical and emotional therapy to help treat her depression and fight her way back.

After six months of training, Shantelle won two South Australian State titles and in 2012 won her first national title.

Shantelle has won three Jiu-Jitsu world championships and is currently ranked 7th in the world for IBJJF.