Aunty Jean South

Introducing Aunty Jean South, Badanami Centre's Elder in Residence

Aunty Jean SouthTo assist in supporting students on their journey through university, Badanami's longest standing Aboriginal staff member has also been appointed the Badanami Elder in Residence. The Badanami Elder in Residence is located within the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education and reports to the Dean, Indigenous Education.

The Badanami Elder in Residence is a unique position which recognises the special place of Elders within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society and in turn the local work at Western Sydney University. This position is also formal recognition of the value placed upon "Indigenous Knowledge" here at the University. The Badanami Elder in Residence is the Elder of the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education only, and while available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students across the University, they are not imposed. However, the position also networks with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders in universities across Australia and with the family of Elders committed to working internationally with the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC).

About Aunty Jean

Aunty Jean South plays a vital role in supporting and helping students to continue to be in touch with their culture during their journey as a student here at the University. Aunty Jean is an alumnus of the University achieving a Bachelor of Arts in 1990.

Aunty Jean has a breadth of experience working in high schools and in the higher education sector, which is demonstrated by her strong links to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as the international Indigenous community. She is also an accomplished artist participating and featuring in many exhibitions and has been a curator at the Penrith Regional Art Gallery.

Aunty Jean has been instrumental in the transformation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education over the years and has been an active member of the following committees:

  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Elders Alliance (Chair)
  • Global Indigenous Nations Elders Council
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Network
  • National Indigenous Elders Think Tank
  • WINHEC's Global Indigenous Elders Alliance.

As Badanami's Elder in Residence, Aunty Jean South plays an important role by motivating, supporting and engaging with current and prospective students, and local communities and organisations to enhance the University's commitment to further education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The role and importance of an Elder in supporting students

Being an Aboriginal Elder is not a matter of age, nor is it dependent exclusively on comprehensive knowledge of history or the means of physical survival, but being an Elder is a quality of spirit that transcends the physical that can be earned only through service to their family and communities.

The Aboriginal Elder's role is one that is highly respected and holds immense cultural wisdom. The Elder's guidance is often illustrated through everyday life and their wisdom is often imparted subconsciously. It is through the Aboriginal Elders that the spirit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is kept alive, preserved and passed on for future generations.