This year, NAIDOC Week is recognising the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make – in their communities, families; Australia’s rich history and to our nation.
Yamatji Malgana woman Jacqueline Minney, has come a long way both in geographical and personal terms since her early childhood days in the small coastal community of Shark Bay.
Recently appointed to the new Advisory Board with the Murdoch University School of Business and Governance, Ms Minney is Director of Opportunities Without Boundaries, a Perth-based consultancy she founded to empower Indigenous Australians pursue their career goals through employment.
“Our aim, through Opportunities Without Boundaries (OWB) is to create and maintain mutually-beneficial and sustainable relationships with Aboriginal people and communities in locations where our corporate clients operate,” Ms Minney said.
Through her work with OWB, Ms Minney has worked with a vast range of Aboriginal Communities across Australia, sharing her personal experiences to empower others to achieve their ambitions.
“Aboriginal culture, tradition, history and our future wellbeing is inherently linked with the land and I believe that our land is fundamentally important to progressing Aboriginal affairs in all aspects of life, particularly in relation to economic development, health and education.”
With professional qualifications in childcare, the mining industry, along with a certificate in Indigenous Sector Management, Ms Minney continues to develop her skill set and gain further qualifications, currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Sustainable Development at Murdoch University.
“Drawing on my own life experiences - both good and not so good - I knew that I wanted to do more,” she said.
“So I enrolled at Murdoch to undertake studies that would put me in good stead in the political arena to be a decision maker pertinent to policy for the betterment of our West Australian community,” she said.
During NAIDOC Week, Ms Minney took the time to reflect on her childhood and the significance of this year’s theme: “Because of her, we can!” acknowledging the women in her life who encouraged her to pursue and achieve her career goals, even when she was faced with adversity.
“There are a number of influential women in my life: my mother, Dolly Minney; my sisters Carole Minney and Kath O’Brien, my aunties Kath Oakley, Rose Wear, Gloria Boddington and Edith White, and my grannies Minnie O’Dene, Topsy Cross and Ellen Naughton - I have the best memories of each of these fiercely determined women,” she said.
Ms Minney recalls her grandmothers as being instrumental in her upbringing, fostering her love of the land and sharing stories about her family history.
“Being the youngest grandchild born in those days, I spent more time with my grannies than I did with other family members. We used to go out Country gathering food and fishing when they would tell me old yarns about family and our Country,” she said.
Ms Minney continues to draw on those fond childhood memories and the teachings of her grandmothers in her professional and personal pursuits.
“This time spent with my grannies is one of the fondest memories that I have, and some of these memories are what urge me to do the work I do today - continually pushing forward to empower all Aboriginal people and encourage a sense of mutual respect and understanding so that we can all work together to protect our children,” she said.
As a mother herself, and through her continued work with Opportunities Without Boundaries, Ms Minney is now driven to inspire the next generation of Indigenous people - a responsibility she takes on with the same level of passion she has applied to achieving her own success.
“I have a reciprocal relationship with my passions and this is what also keeps my spirit strong. They are my family, my people and my country,” she said.
“My advice on how we can all continue towards closing the opportunity gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians is this: You can never make change from the outside! Sustainable change comes from within.”
Events celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018: Because of her, we can! will continue until this Sunday 15 July.
Image caption: Ms Jacqueline Minney (second from left) with her mother and aunts.