Jocellin Jansson was busily chopping up some vegetables when we called her on Monday afternoon to find out a little more about the NSW Nationals’ new Vice Chairman.
“I’ve got some people coming around for dinner to explain all the ins and outs of water issues to me,” she said from her home in Narrabri. “There’s a lot to it and I really want to understand it.”
The daughter of a farming family from Narrabri, Jocellin grew up surrounded by politics and community service, so it was only natural that she would open her home to members who were experts on water policy.
Growing up, Jocellin’s father worked for Auscott and his family ran Black Angus on a property, while her mother was very involved in various community organisations. But the family had also been long been supporters of the Country Party and later, the National Party, so it was no surprise when the young country girl showed an interest in working for the community.
“Service and politics have been an active part of my life since day one,” she said. “I guess it’s not surprising these two things are very much combined for me.”
At the tender age of 21 Jocellin left Narrabri, moving to Sydney where she won the Miss Australia Achiever award, helping to raise a significant amount of funds and awareness of cerebral palsy. After a few years Jocellin started her own recruitment firm and built the company up before selling it and taking the reins of the Country Education Foundation.
“One of my passions is children and taking away barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential through training and education,” she said. “The CEF is catalytic in rural communities, helping local youth with encouragement and supporting them to achieve their aspirations, investing in the talent pool for the future. It’s that whole adage of paying it forward: When you give to somebody and support them in a formative way the people you’re giving to then become the next givers and agents of change, it’s such a powerful thing to do.”
After about four years running the CEF, Jocellin left to run the Royal Agricultural Society Foundation. During those years, she had to officially stay politically neutral and work with the Government of the day, but in her heart she remained loyal to the Nationals.
However, her work had brought her into contact with several Nationals MPs, notably Michael McCormack and Adrian Piccoli, who helped to reignite an interest in politics.
“They encouraged me and I really felt like a member before I was even a member, I just felt so embraced,” she said. “I remember when I left the Royal Agricultural Society Foundation, Michael (McCormack) called and said ‘now you have to become a member and join the family’, so I did. At that point I had moved back to Narrabri after 23 years in Sydney and became really involved with the Party locally at a Branch level and also a State and Federal electorate level.”
Since joining the NSW Nationals, Jocellin Jansson has continued to work for the community. This is her third year on the Central Council and as Secretary of the Women’s Council, but she also serves on the Membership and Education Committees. And now she’s been chosen to serve as the Party’s Vice Chair. But Jocellin’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves either, saying fundraising was always a part of her life – from childhood through her professional career – and getting involved in the future of the Party membership.
“The National Party is your greatest vehicle to create positive change for rural Australia,” she said. “If you want to feel your hands on the wheel of where rural Australia is going, then the National Party is where you need to be.”