Jean Aileen Little

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For the Australian actor and entertainment personality, see Jeanne Little.
Jean Aileen Little
Jean Little OAM, Director on the Board of Directors of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia in 2012 speaking to ABC radio in Canberra.jpg
Jean Little OAM, Director on the Board of Directors of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia in 2012 speaking to ABC radio in Canberra
Native name Gaarkamunda
Born 1941 (age 74–75)
Nationality Australian
Other names Jean Jans, Jean Ling
Alma mater St. Andrew's War Memorial Hospital
Occupation Nurse, Public Servant, Aboriginal Affairs Activist
Home town Mapoon
Awards Medal of the Order of Australia

Jean Aileen Little OAM,[1] née Ling (also known as Jean Jans from her first marriage) is an Australian Aboriginal leader and community advocate from Mapoon in the Far North Queensland. In 1997 the then Governor of Queensland, Leneen Forde, awarded Little the Medal of the Order[1] of Australia for her services to Aboriginal health and community services.


Little was born in 1941 at the Presbyterian Mission in the small Aboriginal community of Mapoon in the Western Cape of Cape York Peninsular. Mapoon was a former Mission town but prior to the 'Burning of Mapoon'[2][3][4] Little with her family moved to the Torres Strait island of Thursday Island. From there she left to Melbourne, Victoria to undergo study as a nurse at St. Andrew's War Memorial Hospital[5] in 1966 after winning a study scholarship from the Queensland Peanut Marketing Board and Trans Australian Airlines.


Along with her extensive community work, strengthening Aboriginal people, and work as a consultant for Comalco in Weipa, mining operations which have now been taken over by Rito Tinto. Little has also worked in a number of public service positions including the Canberra Institute for Criminology, Department of Community Services and the Department of Health & Ageing. She is also a former Executive Officer of Mapoon Shire Council.[6]

Little is a Life Member of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) Australia's peak body in alcohol and substance abuse & misuse research, and in 2012 she was elected by her peers to be the first Aboriginal woman to sit on the Board of Directors.[7] She also chairs and heads the ADCA working group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. In 2005 she was an ambassador to the 25th International Montessori Congress in Sydney.[8]

Community advocacy[edit]

Little currently sits on a number of community led committees including the Cairns branch of the Deaths in Custody Watch Group for which she is the spokesperson[9] who advocate against the use of excessive force from Police Officers on prison or watch-house inmates. She also sits on the Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO Bursary Fund committee,[10] a bursary in honour of late Queenslander[11] and celebrated Australian ceramicist Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO,[12] to help support the arts study and practice of emerging Aboriginal artists from Cape York. Little is a former member of the Cape York District Health Council now known as the Cape York Hospital and Health Service Board.[13] She was also one of the original signatories of the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement[14] (also known as the Western Cape Communities Trust), and was also one of the original signatories from the Tjungundji tribe of Mapoon for the DOGIT or Deed of Grant in Trust agreement, which enabled local Aboriginal people in communities to manage traditional land.

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1995, Little received a local "Citizen of the Year" award. Little is a Life Member of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia. In 1997 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her work in Aboriginal health and the community.

In 2011, Little, a member of the Cairns Writer's Club,[15] tried performing self-written poetry. She won the Cairns heat and was selected as one of Queensland's State Finalists for the National Poetry Slam. She performed at the State Finals at the State Library of Queensland.

In 2013 Little was awarded the Queensland's Speaker's Inspiring Women Award for the electorate Queensland state electorate of Barron River.[16]

In 2014 Ms Little was announced as one of the state finalists for the 2015 Queensland Australian of the Year Awards in the Senior Australian of the Year division.[17][18]

Little performing as a Queensland State Finalist at the State Finals for the National Poetry Slam in 2011 at the State Library of Queensland.


  1. ^ a b "Search Australian Honours - Advanced Search: Jans, Jean Aileen". It's an Honour: Australia Celebrating Australians. Commonwealth of Australia 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mapoon History". Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council. Retrieved October 2, 2013.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Mapoon: the burning of a community". Solidarity Magazine #7 - Rudd pushed Howard's policies. September 2008. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ Ganter, Regina. "Mapoon (1891-1919)". German Missionaries in Queensland. Griffith University. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ "St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital". September 27, 2008. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ Smith, Wayne (November 8, 1999). "State gives council status to township it tried to destroy". The Courier-Mail. Trudy and Rod Bray. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Governance". ADCA. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  8. ^ Little, Jean Aileen (July 2005). "25th International Montessori Congress Papers" (PDF). Jean Aileen Little OAM. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Historic national stop deaths in custody coalition formed | Indymedia Australia". Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Thancoupie's Bursary Fund |". Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ "2008 Queensland Greats recipients | About Queensland and its government | Queensland Government". Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Thancoupie (Thanakupi) the Potter (1937-2011) « Inside the collection – Powerhouse Museum". May 16, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Home Page - Cape York Hospital and Health Service". Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  14. ^ "WCCCA | our country...our future". Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Member Bios | Tropical Writers Inc". November 24, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^

External links[edit]

  • "ADCA (Home Page)". The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia. Retrieved October 2, 2013.