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Jolleen Hicks - Mawarnkarra Health Service

Please note Jolleen Hicks works externally to the Commissioner's office.

My name is Jolleen Hicks and I am a Ngarluma Aboriginal woman from Roebourne in the Pilbara region of WA. My ancestors come from the river that runs through Roebourne, the Ngurin.

I wear a few hats, but my most important role is as a Director of the Aboriginal medical service in Roebourne, Mawarnkarra Health Service. I have been connected to Mawarnkarra since I was six years old when my Mum started out working there as an Aboriginal Health Worker. Over 20 years later, she is the Chief Executive Officer, and I am in my sixth consecutive year as a Director.

We passionately represent our Aboriginal community through Mawarnkarra. In my day job, I work as a consultant, which mostly involves the design and delivery of workshops that share my experience, insights and successes of working with Aboriginal groups and communities across Australia. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I ended up being a lawyer.

However, now I teach what I learned as a lawyer and advocate for Aboriginal people. My decision to start my own consultancy came in 2013 when I faced one of my toughest challenges – being diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 30. Within six months of my successful surgery, I established Roebourne Consulting Services.

The challenges I have faced as a small business owner and consultant is that many people that would benefit from my expertise don’t think I can teach them anything due to my age. I turned 35 this year. I have an insight into the Aboriginal cultural world that many people dream of having.

I have worked with and for over 20 separate Aboriginal cultural groups in WA and Queensland in my capacity as their Native Title lawyer. This means I have listened to cultural knowledge and intelligence from Elders that is usually preserved for certain people from that group only.

My strengths lie in my ability to strategically look at matters, ensuring that all perspectives are represented or heard and ensuring that as many people as possible benefit from a decision or outcome.

I feel like my ancestors chose a leadership journey for me as a child and I try my best to honour them in the leadership roles I undertake as a consultant, community representative, family representative and advocate. I remain true to my family and cultural values in all that I do by remaining independent and not conflicted.

Good leadership is about recognising that every person in a team has a role to play, building your team’s capacity as individuals and as a collective, learning from those around you, being open and transparent, being held accountable and sharing your successes with your entire team.

If I could give advice to myself at high school, it would be: the more you invest in your education and learning, the greater experiences you will have in your life journey. My advice to young people interested in my journey would be to learn not only from the mainstream education system, but also to learn from Aboriginal people. Leadership is about making a positive impact so that others can benefit more than you.