Jo Dau: Outstanding citizen of the Douglas Shire
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
As Women’s History Month continues we are shining a spotlight on the extraordinary women of the Douglas Shire.
This week we look into the life the 2019 Douglas Shire Citizen of the Year, Jo Dau, who in her 80s dedicate her time volunteering around the community.
Born in England in 1934, Ms Dau trained as a nurse and midwife before migrating to Australia in 1958.
Ms Dau worked at the Mossman Hospital, at a local doctors surgery, and ran the local health food store Yum Yum’s, but it was her work amongst the community that really makes her a stand out citizen.
In 1987, Ms Dau became the third ever women to sit on the Douglas Shire Council, a position she held for seven years.
“I was the only woman amongst the men but they were perfect gentleman,” she said.
“One of the councillors told his daughter once that I was the voice of reason, which I thought was quite good.”
Ms Dau achieved a lot during her time as councillor, including fighting for the Mossman aged care facility and securing the block of land on Johnston Road for its development.
She was also involved with upgrading the Mossman Library, building the Port Douglas Community Hall, and the development of the Douglas Arts Committee in Mill Street.
Ms Dau’s volunteering commitments are numerous, including 53-years as a Red-Cross member, of which she is currently Mossman president; 20-years as the Douglas Shire Aged Person Home Committee President; 24 years as Mossman Pistol club secretary; and 23-years as a member of the Mossman Coast Guard.
“In the 1980s there was an emergency public meeting for the coastguard because they were in stress and needed volunteers, so I volunteered and stayed for 23 years.
“We went out in the boats, used the wireless radios, and got lots of experience,” she said.
In her position on the Douglas Shire Aged Person Home Committee, which helps provide low-income pensioners with affordable housing, Ms Dau has seen the organisation grow from a few houses in Mossman, to now managing 48 properties across the Shire.
Ms Dau now spends much of her time raising money for her various causes, running many raffles and sausage sizzles.
“I ran a Friday night raffle for the Coast Guard for the last seven years we were in it, at the Royal Hotel in Mosman,” Ms Dau said.
She can also often still be seen at the Mossman Markets raising funds for the Red Cross.
Ms Dau was honoured for her commitment to the community at the Australia Day Award ceremony earlier this year, where she was awarded Citizen of the Year.
When asked how it felt to be recognised for her life's work, the modest grandmother replied “embarrassing” with a chuckle.
“It is a big honour,” she added.
“Although I thought they were some others there that were equally as deserving.”
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