- Honour Roll
Through her efforts to establish the Wamba Dagz sewing group, Linda developed and created a social, educational and cultural program for the Wamba Wamba women, giving them skills and helping them to take control of their lives. She was also influential in the Wamba Wamba people's development of a market garden and a commercial hydroponic facility, enabling the community to become self-sufficient. Both enterprises provided important employment and educational opportunities.
Linda Fenton was born in 1956 in Swan Hill, where she went to school until Year 10. At primary school Linda learnt ballet dancing and gave many performances, then at high school she became a committed Christian. After leaving school she attended the Gnowangerup Bible College in Western Australia and returned to Swan Hill to teach Sunday school. She started up the Mirranjippa Dance Group and taught Dreamtime dancing and ballet dancing to local children and was also a pre-school teacher.
She married her husband Geoff in 1981, who was a Salvation Army pastor. They had three daughters. In the late 1980s she became involved with the Wamba Wamba Aboriginal Land Council, which occupies 40 acres of traditional land on the banks of the Murray River near Swan Hill on the NSW side of the river border and in 1993 was elected Chairperson.
Linda Fenton worked constantly to improve the welfare and the confidence of the Wamba Wamba people. As Chairperson of the Land Council, she helped to establish two important and successful initiatives for the Wamba Wamba people. In 1992, Linda applied to ATSIC for a grant of $6000 to purchase sewing machines and materials and to employ a sewing teacher. Starting out in a tin shed at the back of a house, the Wamba Dagz sewing group has over the years operated successful street stalls selling their clothing, arts and crafts and is now a profitable small business enterprise. In mid 1995, under Linda's leadership, the Wamba Wamba Aboriginal Land Council built upon its successful 13-acre market garden and established a hydroponic facility that has become a role model for other Aboriginal Land Councils.
The Wamba Wamba people lost an important community leader when Linda died in February 2000. She is greatly missed by her people. In particular, Linda was an inspiration for the women of the Wamba Wamba. The sewing group is growing into a clothing business, giving the women confidence and self-esteem. They now have a goal to achieve in business thanks to Linda's support and vision. Linda planted the seed for the Wamba Wamba women to bloom.
Reviewed 25 May 2022