When Walgett’s Jane Keir retired from her role as a registered nurse at Walgett Health Service in 2011, she didn’t imagine that five years later she would be working harder than ever.
Not only has Ms Keir been re-elected to Walgett Shire Council for her third term, but she also manages the books for her family’s farm, manages the Come-By-Chance community hall and cemetery, and is back as a registered nurse, this time at Kookaburra Court aged care facility.
The retirement may have been short lived, lured to The Whiddon Group’s Kookaburra Court less than three years after her retirement, but embodies her commitment to her community.
“I am born and bred at Come-By-Chance, my family arrived in the 1840s,” she said.
“We are a fifth or sixth generation farming family at Come-By-Chance and I am very passionate about my community.”
Saturday was International Day of Rural Women and Ms Keir said it was an important landmark.
“Rural women are resilient, strong, energetic, hard working and very proud. We often have to go without some of the things our city sisters take for granted. We have a lot of days now for different causes but I really feel this is an important one.”
At age 10, Ms Keir went to Sydney for boarding school and stayed there while she completed her nursing studies.
She returned to the region in 1973, after more than a decade away. Soon after, she met her husband David and got a job with the health service, first in community health, and later in palliative care.
In 2008 she was elected as a councillor for the first time, and in the same year she had the honour of receiving an Order of Australia for her services to the community and dedication to rural nursing.
After she retired, Ms Keir said she wasn’t to look after the books for the family business, run by David and her son Ben. She also wanted to spend more time with her daughter Holly, who had moved to Sydney to start her own family. However, she couldn’t resist the chance to help Kookaburra Court.
“It was really only a temporary retirement,” she said.
“Kookaburra Court was looking for a registered nurse and I had kept my registration. I work two days a week and help with the eight residents there.
“Five of those residents are over 90 and most of them have lived in Walgett all their lives.”
Mr Keir said Kookaburra Court had been fantastic in ensuring the residents were able to remain involved in the community.