BACK TO THE PEOPLE
Aunty Jean Hands
I grew up in Gunnedah on Kamilaroi land, I’m a proud Kamilaroi woman. I lived with my family on a reserve, “camping ground”, and there I had the best life. Family is very important to me. Family is all my cousins and aunts, everyone is family.
My culture is something that I’ve grown up with for 67 years, it’s always been a part of my life. From when we even lived on the campground, we always were taught culture, told who we were and where we come from. It’s always been that way with me and I instil it in my own children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren.
I got a job as a community liaison officer with Hunter Health and that’s when my whole life changed. I worked in Health for about 21 years. I was getting into the communities and working with families. I was also able to continue my education by going to Uni and getting a degree. I was scared as hell because the furthest I’ve got in my education was year 7 at High School.
My first time at the Land Council in Muswellbrook was, goodness many years ago. To come and join a Land Council in another town, knowing that I’m not a Wanaruah descendant was daunting to me but I found another community and another family.
I have been now been Chairperson of the LALC for the last 5 years. I’ve been a member of the Mach Energy Mount Pleasant ACDF funding for many years. We look at funding applications that come in from community, and non-Aboriginal agencies that are putting programs into the Aboriginal community. And something I am very proud of, is my work with Local Decision Making. Along with Michael Brogan, we were the founding Chairs of the Northern Region Aboriginal Alliance.
“I found another community and another family.”