The life of Pauline Jensen, a co-convenor of Port Jackson branch of the Greens NSW, was celebrated in a moving funeral service at a packed Sydney chapel on November 25.
Greens MP Jamie Parker led the service and Aboriginal actor Rarriwuy Hick gave a moving Acknowledgement of Country. Pauline spent some of the last weeks of her life on Hick’s country at Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, with Aboriginal healers.
Pauline grew up as the youngest of four sisters in a working-class family in Nunawading, Melbourne. Her father built the family home and Pauline later used his tools to build a straw bale house on her land in Oallen, in regional New South Wales.
She was a product of the breakout of youth rebellion in the 1970s, living in one of the first share houses in Melbourne with Dermot, Simon and Livo, who became lifelong friends of Pauline.
One of her first volunteering activities was organising the first Down to Earth music festival with former Labor Left leader Jim Cairns and businesswoman Junie Morosi, near Canberra in 1976. Unfortunately, she had to be hospitalised the day before the festival started.
Pauline took up yoga and astrology as a system of beliefs and daily practice. Through this lifelong pursuit she collected many new yoga friends, in particular Sol and Vamana. If you stayed with Pauline, you would be invited to join her in a 5am exercise in breathing, stretching and meditation. Even if you were sceptical of the benefits, her insistence and enthusiasm brooked few refusals.
Pauline was a primary school teacher. One of her memorable teaching assignments was at Kalang, NSW, where a community of hippies had set up their own school. Carolyn, one of her first students, described at the funeral how she loved going to school as it was so exciting with excursions into the bushland and an emphasis on self-development and having fun.
Pauline spent three years teaching at a school in Kununurra, Western Australia, where she got to know Sarah. Pauline spent hundreds of hours preparing classes for the Aboriginal students, teaching them basic life skills and taking them on excursions to beautiful areas around the countryside, often accompanied by their grandmothers. Concern, empathy and the fight for justice for First Nations people were life-long aspects of Pauline’s character.
Pauline was an avid traveller, visiting Europe, Cuba and India many times, staying at ashrams and universities to learn as much as she could about yoga. Pauline completed a PhD at Sydney University on the benefits of yoga and meditation for troubled children.
Her final teaching job was at Balmain Public School, training students to value the environment, recycling, composting and worm farms. Adoring Balmain schoolchildren presented Pauline with a book of 100 drawings for her when they were told she was very ill.
Pauline was a loyal member of The Greens and played an active role in organising federal, state and local election campaigns. She did all the hard work, such as letter-boxing and hanging banners, not just the glamorous jobs, and was an expert in running difficult meetings.
She lived life to the full, taking one of the last camel tours through the desert, riding a pushbike over sand hills with her friend Paul, and volunteering on a farm on a tiny island in Vanuatu.
Her last accomplishment was building her straw bale house, a huge undertaking of five years that she had just finished and where she planned to live out her last years. It was not to be.
Surrounded by her friends, she died far too early of mesothelioma from an exposure to asbestos some 20 years ago.
She will be missed enormously, but lives on in the hearts and memories of many. A fighter for a better world and a moral and ethical voice for all injustices, Pauline taught us all how to live life well.