Aunty Averil Dean
Menang Goreng Elder
Averil was born in the bush at the Gnowangerup mission in 1939. As a child, teenager, mother and grandmother, Averil has experienced life as a Noongar person in the communities of Gnowangerup, Tambellup, Cranbrook and Albany.
There were happy times but there was, and still is, oppression and racism. Her mum and dad worked hard and their resilience and inner strength enabled them to overcome the struggle of caring for the family in times of hardship.
Important milestones in her life included her and sister Treasy attending high school in Perth, and then studying to become Nursing Aides at Royal Perth Hospital. Averil then transferred to Broome Hospital. In Broome she met her husband Kenneth Dean and started a family. Missing family and feeling homesick, Averil, Kenny and the two children moved back to be close to her family in the Tambellup district, where Kenny was introduced to the hard work of land clearing and shearing. After some years, they made the move to live in the town of Cranbrook, which became their home for 12 happy years.
To give their children better opportunities, the family moved to Albany, which became their permanent home. With brother Jack’s leadership, Averil and sister Treasy, began treaching cultural studies at the Albany Senior High School in the early 1970s. This became an important focus for Averil and she still works with schools as a cultural teacher.
For fourteen years, Averil also worked for the Aboriginal Visitors’ Scheme supporting Noongar inmates at the Albany Prison. She earned a lot of respect and made many friends.
As a Noongar Elder, Averil has many other roles in the community, all of which she undertakes with the personal warmth, generosity of spirit and good humour that she has become renowned for.
Aunty Averil Dean: Rich rewards from family, culture and country
Averil is immensely proud of her Noongar culture, and teaching school children about it has been an important part of her life. Growing up in a strong, loving family, Averil’s home life was happy. But during this time, she knows that older family members were experiencing major oppression, and she remembers the painful school yard taunt of ‘nigger’.
A conversation with Jack Williams and Averil Dean: stories about country
Drawn from a 2004 talk by Noongar Elders Jack Williams and Averil Dean featuring stories about country, including Boola Miyel (Bluff Knoll).