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Dates of existence
Janet Knox was born in 1945 in Gundagai, NSW, and moved to Tumut in 1953. She rode a bike to school and to piano lessons. When Gilmore Creek flooded, the farm (“Yurunga” on the Gocup Road) was cut off from town, and her father drove her in the Land Rover. In 1956 Jan went to boarding school in Sydney, returning home for holidays on the steam train, the South West Mail, a 12 hour journey. When she got a driver’s licence in 1962, Jan worked in the holidays as an assistant in Knox Pharmacy in Tumut.
After completing her Leaving Certificate in 1963, she failed first year at Pharmacy College in Melbourne but the following year was accepted by the Australian National University (ANU) to enrol in a Bachelor of Arts (BA). She graduated with a BA, worked at ANU in the English Malay Dictionary Project and the Faculty of Asian Studies, and completed part-time a Bachelor of Arts, Asian Studies (BA (AS)). Her first trip overseas was to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia in 1970.
In February 1972 Jan and Bill Gammage married and went to live in Port Moresby, in the suburb of Boroko. Jan got a job in the Australian Public Service which at Independence in 1975 became the PNG Public Service. She worked first in Town in the Policy Secretariat of the Department of Social Development and Home Affairs in ANG House, then at the Public Service Board with Papua New Guinean board member Bill Lawrence. She then moved to Waigani to the public service training college, the Administrative College, known as Adcol. There, amongst other duties, she worked on the Senior Executive Program and Adcol’s journal Administration for Development.
At the end of 1976, after 5 years in Papua New Guinea, Jan went to live in Adelaide, South Australia. Having enjoyed the experience of living and travelling a lot in PNG, she got a job as a clerk with Ansett Airlines, working mainly in the Holiday Travel Section. This created many opportunities to see a lot of Australia, including the “outback” before it became popular. After a year in Canberra in 1981 working for the Aboriginal Treaty Committee and the Centre for Continuing Education at ANU, Jan returned to Adelaide and worked part time for two community based organisations – the Citizens Advice Bureau and the non-government development agency Community Aid Abroad (CAA), now Oxfam.
Moving to Canberra in 1987 provided the opportunity to work in the Australian Government’s overseas aid program managed by the Australian Development Assistance Bureau (ADAB), subsequently AIDAB then AusAID. Jan worked in the program for the next 20 years, till the end of 2006, including ten years in the PNG program. Working for AusAID meant getting involved in challenging, interesting projects of which the most challenging was participating in 1997/98 in the regional mission known as Operation Bel Isi to help bring peace to Bougainville.
Jan’s participation in the mission to Bougainville was recognised by the award of an Australian Service Medal.
Retired now from paid employment, Jan is still busy. Amongst other activities, she travels, works as a volunteer, and researches and writes a form of biography/chronicle of women in her family.