Thursday, February 1, 2024
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Women’s advocate and Councillor, Jan Clifford, was awarded The Order Of Australia (OAM) over the weekend, and the inspiring local leader says she feels “humbled” to receive such recognition.
“When I first found out, I could barely talk!” said Ms Clifford.
“I was just beside myself – and I am completely humbled, I don’t do it for the recognition or the thanks, I do it because I like helping people.”
Informed of her nomination in September, Ms Clifford says she has no idea which of the many groups she involved with put her name forward.
“I do know that they ring up every organisation that you have anything to do with and check whether you are a passenger or a driver,” she explained.
“I do lots of stuff for people doing it tough and it is an honour to be recognised nationally for everything I do.”
Ms Clifford was born in Melbourne and brought up in West Australia but moved to Airlie Beach in 1994 when she was escaping domestic violence, a subject she has been very open about sharing in order to help others.
Arriving in town 30 years ago, she began working in sales and marketing for South Molle Island before it went into receivership, and she started her own business.
Just a few years later in 1996, she won an Australian Federation of Travels Agents Award for Sales and Marketing, an accolade she still holds dear.
“I always liked to help people in their tourism businesses,” she recounts.
Ms Clifford was put into the spotlight again when she became a strong advocate for responsible development in Airlie Beach, joining groups such as Save Our Foreshore, Loot for the Lagoon, and Save Our Airport.
She was also a driving force behind the Airlie Beach Chamber of Commerce for many years and her experience across all platforms led to her current position as a Councillor for Whitsunday Regional Council.
“From the year 2000 onwards, I used to go to a lot of Council meetings,” she shared.
“I didn’t like the way the 4802 postcode was being treated by the predominantly Proserpinian Council, I felt they were making some bad decisions.”
Her attendance at Council meetings organically led to her candidacy and she was elected Councillor in 2008, a position she has held since then.
During her time as a public figure, Ms Clifford has been an active member of several organisations, including the Australian Local Government Women's Association, Australian Local Government Women's Association Queensland, Whitsunday Housing Company, and among several others.
Her most significant role is the President of the National Rural Women's Coalition.
“When I started work back in the dark ages, I would be lucky to get paid half as much as a bloke would get paid for doing the same job,” she recalls.
“There was no maternity leave and the pay gap was extraordinary.
“I have always been outspoken and demonstrated against things I believe in, and I will always continue to advocate for women and women’s rights.”
Ms Clifford will be awarded her OAM when she attends a formal ceremony at Parliament House, the date of this is yet to be announced.
Local leader, Jan Clifford, was honoured to receive an OAM on Australia Day. Photos supplied