An Aboriginal Leader Creating a Lasting Legacy

Artist, mentor, dancer and community leader, Jamie Donovan wants to leave a legacy his children will be honoured to continue. The proud Birpai and Worimi man is one of the exceptional nominees for Port Macquarie’s Citizen of the Year award. Coastbeat spoke to Jamie about sharing Aboriginal culture with his community and using art to support reconciliation.

“I’m involved in a lot of things but it’s just who I am – I grew up in this community so I’m trying to give back,” says proud Birpai and Worimi man Jamie Donovan

Jamie remembers his childhood in Wauchope surrounded by extended family. They were often out on country – fishing, hunting and gathering – teaching Jamie about his culture. It’s something he’s determined to pass on to his children. Jamie is a father of three and cares for two of his nieces. 

“I take the time to sit down and teach them language, artwork and dance,” Jamie explains. “My boys have come through the ranks in our local dance group and really enjoy embracing their culture.”

Jamie describes the pride he feels when his sons Peytyn and Jye come home asking for help with language as they’ve had a request to give the Acknowledgement of Country at school events. 

Jamie Donovan

Connecting Cultures

Jamie’s children aren’t the only young people who look up to him. He works with the Department of Education across 43 schools running mentoring programs for Aboriginal boys and assisting students who’ve become disengaged. Jamie facilitates cultural awareness training for the staff members, principals and directors, too. 

Such a role would be more than enough for most people, but it doesn’t stop there. Jamie is the Chairperson of the Wauchope Bunyah Aboriginal Land Council as well as the Chairperson of Mid North Coast Regional Aboriginal Men’s Group. Oh, and did we mention he’s studying at university and is an active member of the Beechwood Rural Fire Service? How about the fact that he’s an in-demand artist? 

Art for Reconciliation

What started out as a way to de-stress after work has turned into a meaningful exploration of his cultural art and stories. Jamie collaborates with schools, childcare centres and sporting clubs to create artwork for t-shirts and murals. 

“Many local government and non-government organisations want to promote Aboriginal history so this is a way to support their journey along the reconciliation process,” he explains.  

So what motivates a man to give so much of himself? 

“I want to be a good role model for my kids,” Jamie states without hesitation. “I want to make sure future generations are left with a legacy that they can be proud to continue.” 

Coastbeat would like to congratulate Jamie of his Citizen of the Year nomination!

Community Group of the Year 

  • Revive Lake Cathie
  • St Agnes’ Catholic Parish Flood Recovery Group
  • The Wells Family (Stewart, Josh, Luke & Blake).

Environmental Citizen of the Year 

  • Susan Baker
  • Peter Fitzroy
  • Dr Deborah Geronimi

Young Citizen of the Year 

  • Billiejane Ashton
  • Georgia Instrell
  • Georgia Ryan.

Senior Citizen of the Year 

  • Larry Brook
  • Reg McGlashan
  • Daphne Salt
  • Holder Saunderz
  • Kingsley Searle

Citizen of the Year 

  • Sue Ashton
  • Ann Drury
  • Jamie Donovan
  • Jeanette McCoubrie
  • David Tunstread

Read Aunty Patricia Walker’s reflection on January 26