Jessie Mary Grey Lillingston Street was born on 18 April 1889 in Ranchi, in Bihar, India. In 1896 Jessie came to Australia with her mother, who inherited Yugilbar station of Clarence River, near Grafton NSW. Jessie was the eldest of three children of Charles Alfred Gordon Lillingston, civil servant, and his wife Mabel Harriet, sixth daughter of Edward David Stewart Ogilvie of Yulgilbar station.
Jessie began her formal education with a governess. In 1904-06 she attended Wycombe Abbey School, Buckinghamshire, England. She matriculated by private study and enrolled in arts at the University of Sydney (B.A., 1911), where she lived at Women's College (1908) and also met her future husband.
The eldest child, Jessie was educated by governesses and at Wycombe Abbey in 1904-06, a progressive school for girls in Buckinghamshire, UK. On her return to Australia she enrolled at the University of Sydney where she met her future husband Kenneth Whistler Street. As a keen sportswoman, she was one of the founders of the University Women’s Sports Association and coach of the University’s women’s hockey club. Residing in The Women’s College at University Jessie graduating with a BA in 1910.
“She rang me up late one night in 1956 (she always rang very late or very early) and said in her lovely, cultivated voice: ‘You can’t get anywhere without a change in the Constitution and you can’t get that without a referendum. You’ll need a petition with 100,000 signatures. We’d better start on it at once.’ And we did. Jessie’s role in our movement was absolutely vital. And she never wanted honour and glory. She’d give ideas away and the credit along with them.” - Faith Bandler, campaigner for the rights of Aboriginal Torres Strait islander and South Pacific Islander peoples and National living Treasure talking about the prevail role played by Jessie Street in the campaign for the 1967 referendum which amended the Australian constitution to enable Aboriginies to be counted in...
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