Talking History: Deborah Jones. At Kalkarindji, 25 August 2022

Date: Feb 1, 2023

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Newspaper

Deborah Jones is a Ngaliwurru/ Nungali woman who lives at Timber Creek. Her traditional land is Wanimin Yirijpirnti, in the upper Victoria River area.

My proper birthplace was at Bamyili – now called Barunga – at the old Maranboy Police Station. The Katherine Hospital was full up with a lot of patients so my mum was put out there in the community with other ladies.

The NLC’s Chairman’s mother, Clair Bush, was my mother’s midwife. She delivered me. He treats me like a sister now! I grew up on Fitzroy Station – we own that station now. 

Its my traditional land. When I was growing up we moved around on a lot of stations. My dad was a stockman back then. We went all around the country – Northern Territory, Western Australia. 

My first school was on Bradshaw Station. Then I went to Clyde Fenton Primary School in Katherine, that was my first real school. I got scared of white kids, I didn’t really like white kids. I didn’t hate them but I was really scared you know, because I thought they were going to do something to me. Bash me or something! 

Deborah Jones

But, yeah, I grew out of that and made a lot of friends there. Then I went to the Timber Creek primary school. That was back in 1984. 

Then in 1985 I went to Kormilda College. 

In 1987 I went to Katherine High School until November and then I started working as an assistant teacher out at Timber Creek school. 

Then I worked for Ngaliwurru Aboriginal Corporation – back then it was called the Ngaringman Resource Centre. Ngaringman started off at Yarralin on VRD station ... but moved up to Timber Creek, because that was central to all the outstations and communities it serviced. Ngaringman provided support and services to about 13 communities. 

I worked at Ngaringman for 14 years and after that I worked with the Katherine West Health Board for about 11 years. I started off as an NLC member around 2008 or 2009 I think it was. 

It was when Galarrwuy was Chairman and Samuel was on the Executive from the Katherine Region. Now I’m on the NLC Executive – it’s good, going to meetings and catching up with other members from other regions. 

As an Executive member you get a lot of countrymen and women come and talk to me about a lot of issues where they want me to help them get their message out. This includes stories about their land. Our culture means a lot to us, to all the Aboriginal people.

I’m also a Regional Councillor for the NLC and we bring all of the issues that community members bring to us. We bring them to our Regional Council meetings – we meet twice a year on country and also before each Full Council meeting. This means we can bring those issues to the attention of other members and to NLC staff so they can do something about it.

This is really important – for all of us in the VRD region we get to put our concerns to either the Executive or to the Full Council. We all come together as one mob, one really strong voice. 

If we didn’t have the one voice – without the NLC and all the NLC members our issues wouldn’t be heard – by government, people we work with, all that. 

Another way is when all of the four land councils – the Tiwi, Anindilyakwa, Central and Northern land councils – all get together to meet. We are all heard as one strong voice for our community, our people. 

Next year the Land Council will have been working for our people for 50 years and my family has been with it for many years of that time. Well, in another 50 years I still want to see the Land Council still here, I want to see it still fighting for the rights for our people. It has been established for a long time now – 50 years – and now we need to keep going! 

We need the next generation to take on this job too and be part of this Land Rights fight. That next generation – they’ve gotta go to school, learn about their history and culture through listening to the old people and then they’ve got to come behind and walk along our path. Follow their elders.