Vale Debbie Long

Debbie Long was a woman of commitment to her husband Chris and children Daniel, Emily and Matthew, her Aboriginal family, the education and welfare of students of Aboriginal background from the western suburbs of Sydney, and to the work and values of the IEU.

Debbie’s desire both to enjoy life and to improve lives, came clothed in a vivacious and fun personality with an easy ability to make friends, communicate and connect. Debbie was also a person with many talents, including artistic and sporting talents, and she loved going fishing!

I first met Debbie in her role as IEU Rep for the members at the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Jarara Indigenous Education Unit at Mt Druitt in western Sydney.

When Debbie came to the Penrith-Blue Mountains Sub-Branch meetings, she came in earnest for the members, but she also came with some great stories. As a storyteller, she was a natural and she put this to great effect at our Western Sydney Women’s Forum in 2016 with its focus on the work and education of Aboriginal women and girls in western Sydney.

Through a Yarning Circle Debbie spoke of her childhood in western NSW; her efforts to achieve a tertiary education to become a teacher; and her deep passion to improve the educational and social outcomes of those in her charge.

Debbie’s desire both to enjoy life and to improve lives, came clothed in a vivacious and fun personality with an easy ability to make friends, communicate and connect.

Debbie was a proud Kamilaroi and Ngemba woman with strong ties and respect for her country and the Elders and these ties featured strongly in her stories. Like her totem, which was the dragonfly, Debbie’s storytelling was adept, light and joyful even when she spoke of human challenges.

Debbie was elected to the NSW IEU Council in the Penrith-Blue Mountains Sub-Branch and then became the IEU representative on the NESA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Committee. She served in these areas with enthusiasm and expertise. Her modesty impelled her to think she could do better for the IEU. She did not need to think this. Her presence improved all of us. To paraphrase her son Daniel’s words at Debbie’s funeral, if there were more people like his Mum, Debbie, the world would be a better place.

Debbie will be missed. Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to Debbie’s family and friends and to the students who were in her care.

Patricia Murnane
McCarthy Catholic College Emu Plains?

Remembering Debbie

Debbie Long was a dedicated teacher, a proud Aboriginal woman and a great singer. She commenced work in the Jarara unit in 2011. She was a strong advocate for Aboriginal families and students in western Sydney.

Deb was strongly involved with her community and the Jarara community. She had the extraordinary ability to link culture and education and make the pathway between the two worlds easier.

Her talents were endless, from the development of highly effective teaching programs for students to being a teacher who empowered her students to be their very best, most often with a good laugh.

Her sense of justice and awareness of the truth was one of her gifts. She decided to be a representative for the IEU as a voice for equality for all, adding her Aboriginal knowledge to decisions that would create positive change.

For any injustices – and there were many that hurt her deeply – she (with the support of her many friends) became that voice for Indigenous issues, fairness and equality. She always implemented action with integrity.

Her love of family and the values that family represents were embodied in all areas of her life. As a wife, mother, friend and teacher, Deb has touched many lives. Her message was to live, love, laugh and be humble – this was the only way she knew how to live.

A strong Aboriginal and amazing woman has walked into the Dreamtime, and she said to three of her sisters before she passed: “I will be around you helping you be strong, I will annoy you and make the wrongs right!” We all laughed.

What a special human being, thank you Deb for gracing our lives and showing us courage.

Your friends
Raylene, Fran and Margaret