Vale Louise K. Hansen (12.5.1950 – 24.7.2022)

It is with much sadness that Fremantle Press acknowledges the passing of Binjarib Nyoongar woman Louise K. Hansen. Her memoir, Smashing Serendipity: The Story of One Mooorditj Yorga will be published with Fremantle Press in February 2023.

In what turned out to be the final week of her life, Louise signed off on her book and jacket (which features her own beautiful painting of her parents’ Palkyu and Binjarib countries) with pride and a great sense of accomplishment.

As Louise herself wrote:

The reason I began writing this story was for my children and grandchildren. I wanted to share with them how it was for me, a young Nyoongar girl, growing up in a small country town in the 1950s. I wanted them to know I had been brought up tough, though loved and cared for by Mum and Dad. … Stories like mine can educate our young people, and future generations, not only about the struggles Nyoongars faced, but the strength we found to overcome so much adversity. … My story is not unique. This is the story of just one moorditj yorga – though there are many like me, growing from childhood through to being a mother and grandmother, always moving between two cultures and grabbing opportunities with both hands and making the most of them. Facing so many challenges but remaining steadfast in her belief in God and her Nyoongar culture and spirituality.

Louise was a Traditional Owner of the Binjarib people and the Palyku people from the Pilbara. She was born and educated in Pinjarra. After having four children, she resumed her education at tertiary level and became a qualified welfare officer and a counsellor. She worked for the Federal Government as Western Australian State Coordinator for women’s issues and as a Senior Policy Officer. She was the first Aboriginal person to be appointed to the Federal Family Law Council of Australia. With her husband, Percy, Louise set up the First WA Aboriginal Building Company to educate young Aboriginal people to become qualified in the building trades. Also with Percy, Louise wrote and produced two albums of music, The Gate and Rainbow Country. Highlights included the talented pair performing and recording their music at Tamworth Country Music Festival.

As a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, family was very important to Louise, and so too was sharing her culture. She was a regular participant in the Elders Yarning program at Curtin University, and working with her on her memoir was itself an educational experience. Her editor and publisher Georgia Richter is grateful for the cups of tea and conversation she was able to share with the author when Louise and Percy stopped by the office to talk about her writing, her life and work.

These yarns were always more than casual conversations: Louise was born educator and shared her knowledge and culture at every opportunity. She was smart, determined, warm and generous – and in the course of editing she demonstrated flashes of the fierceness and resilience that led her to achieve so much across her lifetime.

We are honoured that Louise K. Hansen chose Fremantle Press to be the publisher of her life’s story. She saw her story as no more and no less than just one of many moorditj yorgas who carried their families and their culture through the second half of the twentieth century, and beyond.

With much sadness and respect we acknowledge the passing of a remarkable woman.

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