Jillian Hocking (1959 – 2017)

Journalist and educator

Jillian Hocking was a wonderful human being – whip-smart, passionate, warm, funny and with a true gift for friendship. Jillian believed that she was here to make a difference and her journalism teaching was sharply focused and impassioned. She would go out of her way to help all students, but especially those whom she felt shared her desire to improve the conditions of the underdog. She was outraged about the situation of asylum seekers and never failed to get out onto the streets to voice her protest, despite her illness.

Jillian loved radio and over the years she worked for a number of different organisations as a reporter and presenter. She presented the morning show on ABC Radio Gippsland, was a researcher and presenter for the Law Report on Radio National and read the English news on Blue Danube Radio for the Austrian state broadcaster ORF.

I first met Jillian when she was the training manager at SBS, where her job was to improve the skills of broadcasters from 68 language groups. Jillian was a wonderful mentor to all the people who passed through her training sessions, including me. She had so many friends in the building, and those journalists have stayed in touch with her and organised delightful Yum Cha lunches and gatherings during these past two years of her illness.

Other jobs from Jillian’s portfolio include setting up a bilingual internet radio station ‘Radio Aquitaine’ with contributors from all corners of that area of France. She worked for the BBC, setting up online training modules, training adult journalists in London, and then in China, in Egypt, and later in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Burma. She also spent a year in Afghanistan running the UN Radio Station at the UNAMA mission in Kabul, training Afghan journalists.

Jillian taught Journalism courses at the European Humanities University in Vilnius in Lithuania and then in Melbourne at Deakin University, Victoria University and Swinburne University. At Deakin she received great plaudits from the students for her teaching and took a keen interest in a program which linked up with SBS to mentor students whose first language wasn’t English.

Along with her many friends, I have watched Jillian battle cancer for the past two years. It has been a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment. Despite the constant pain she was in, she was determined to live to see her youngest son through school. Both sons, Max and Oscar, are now students at the University of Melbourne. Jillian was so proud of their achievements and they are a credit to her and to Jillian’s husband, Bruce Kirkman.