My Old People Put Things in My Path – Helen Duroux

March 7, 2021

Helen Duroux is a busy woman, dedicated to her community in Tenterfield, NSW.

Her days and nights are filled to the brim as CEO of the Moombahlene Local Aboriginal Land Council, working with family, community, youth and the vulnerable.

She is a proud Gamillaroi woman, and also the aunt of Clinton Speedy-Duroux, one of the three teenagers murdered in Bowraville in 1990 and 1991.

Helen, along with many others, committed decades to pursuing justice for Clinton, Colleen Walker and Evelyn Greenup.

So, it is no surprise that Helen’s ongoing commitment to the Moombahlene LALC’s new Gallery 299 and Gunimaa bush tucker nursery, echoes the vibrant lives and spirits of the three young people lost.

Helen Duroux is humble about the many projects and achievements that have seen her chosen as a 2021 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year Finalist. In fact, she takes little credit for them, instead honouring her community, the LALC Board and her Ancestors.

“Everything I’ve been able to achieve, is because of wonderful gifts sent to me by my Old People. They walk with me and put things in my path at the right place, in the right time, so I can play my part for my community,” she said.

“My community is strong and committed to each other, and without the support of the Moombahlene LALC Board, we would not have been able to achieve what we have. They see the dreams of our Old People too.”

Gallery 299 is a Moombahlene initiative, a creative space at the LALC offices, that displays the work of local and national artists and local traditional crafts people.

The Gunimaa Plant Nursery was established with a grant from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and specialises in plants of the Tenterfield Plateau, native bush food, medicinal natives, and plants of cultural significance to the local Aboriginal community.

It sits behind the Moombahlene Men’s Group shed and part of the proceeds of plant sales and gallery will eventually go to cultural projects for Tenterfield’s Aboriginal children.

Helen says cultural work is vital to her community.

“I’m really looking forward to an upcoming camp later in March for women and girls on a private property – I won’t tell you where – where we’ll work with some very old and special Birthing Trees. Cultural camps like this strengthen our shared knowledge, our relationships, and connection to our country,” she said.

It’s a deeper, more holistic side to more of Helen’s work, which includes liaising with the local TAFE to support community members complete their Certificates in Construction, Gamilaroi Language or a Statement of Attainment in Aboriginal Sites Work.

And when asked about being chosen as a Finalist in the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year Awards, Helen was, as always, humble.

“I was blown away when I was told about it, because I see myself as being privileged in being able to contribute to my community” she said.

“I don’t look to be popular or score point for things. I do my work because I can, and because of the dreams of my Old People and the support of my community. We can all be inspirational, doesn’t matter what our age is. The Old People will put things in your path too, just be open to listening to what they have to say.”

The NSW Women of the Year Awards ceremony will be held on March 10 at Government House in Sydney during NSW Women’s Week.