Jane Morrison – Brief Biography

Not one to blow my own trumpet, and preferring to work quietly in the background like a lot of other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal friends and relations whose contributions to the Aboriginal rights movement go largely unrecognised, earlier versions of this website did not provide enough information about who I, the author, am. But requests for information about me, personal attacks, and the hacking of the original Facebook page related to this site, have led me to post the following information about myself.

Ours is a multicultural family. My direct family tree includes English, Irish, Jamaican and Scottish ancestry. I have Pacific Islander nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, some of whom live in Kiribati, New Zealand and the Phillipines. A real ‘war baby’, I was born in Sydney during World War II. I have grown-up children. Yes, I am a grandmother.

I have been a dedicated supporter of justice and equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ever since a close friend took me off to an Aboriginal rights demonstration in Garema Place, Civic Centre, Canberra in the early 1970s. I participated in Aboriginal land rights marches and the defence of the Aboriginal Embassy opposite Old Parliament House, Canberra in 1972 and have supported the Embassy over the years. As an old friend once said to me, ‘once you’re in “the movement” you’re in it for ever.’

My interest in researching the Aboriginal resistance movement began as an undergraduate Arts student at the Australian National University (ANU) in 1975, when I returned, at the age of 31, to earlier university studies, that had been interrupted through motherhood, work and illness. I graduated from ANU with a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Sociology and Aboriginal Studies. Among my tertiary and postgraduate qualifications are masters degrees in Education and Journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, United States of America (USA); a postgraduate Diploma in Professional Communication from the University of Canberra; and a Masters Degree in Environmental Law from ANU.

From 1963 to 1977 and from 1983 to 2001, I was a public servant in the Australian Public Service (APS). I have worked in many Federal government portfolios, such as Foreign Affairs, Aboriginal Affairs, Trade, Veterans’ Affairs, Environment and Heritage, and Taxation over a more than 30-year APS career in adminstrative, training and communications/journalism/public relations positions. Between November 1997 and March 1983, I was a mother, graduate student, and part-time university employee in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA. My husband and I had two more children during this period. After my return to Australia in 1983, I went back to Aboriginal Affairs where I worked as a Journalist/Public Affairs Officer until I moved to the then Department of Trade. Later I worked as a Journalist/Public Affairs Officer, and in communications positions, at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Heritage Commission (AHC) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

While working at the Australian Heritage Commission, I was involved in arrangements for the ceremony, conducted at the Aboriginal Embassy site, for its listing in the Register of the National Estate in April 1995. I have been flabbergasted to discover that many people working in conservation and heritage, who should be aware of it at least, knew nothing about the former AHC, set up by the Whitlam Government in 1975, to manage Australia’s natural and cultural heritage. You can read more about the AHC at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Heritage_Commission. The Australian Heritage Database is accessible at: https://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/publications/australian-heritage-database. Unfortunately only a small number of colonial frontier conflict and massacre sites have made their way onto the database.

After leaving the ATO in 2001, I returned to university studies and worked for some years on short contracts, through employment recruitment companies, for a number of government departments and agencies, with a longer stint in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. These days I work, at my own expense from limited means, on research and content for this website and on research, writing and editing my family’s fascinating history. You can get in touch with me by filling out the form on the Contact page.

Jane Morrison 2012–2022. Updated 26 January 2022.