Born in Mapoon, on the western side of Cape York in North Queensland, Australia, in 1941, Jeannie lived at the Mapoon Presbyterian Mission. It was home to Aboriginal and Pacific Islander people, her father was from Vanuatu.
Jeannie writes of the different cultures blending together there to form a unique community. Her childhood days were largely idyllic as she imbibed knowledge of the land, learned about land and ocean creatures and the surrounding bushland. When she was twelve years old, the family moved to Thursday Island, where she spent her teenage years, experiencing what she called “apartheid” for the first time.
She initially studied as a Nurse’s Aide on Thursday Island, and later did her nursing training at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane. As a nurse she travelled throughout Australia, working with the Federal Government’s Drug and Alcohol Foundation. She provided training in prevention of alcohol and other drug problems to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. She travelled to Paris, London, Berlin and native Canadian homelands, attending conferences and learning about alcohol and other drug prevention programs in different countries and cultures.
Jeannie later moved to Cairns where she worked with Queensland Health. Now retired, she is settled in Cairns, but returns to Mapoon to spend time every year.