Jaylene arrived at the interview with her lovely husband and gorgeous dingo/husky cross dog in tow- her support team. From the start it was a relaxed chat. You could not find a more unassuming and generous lady as Jaylene Musgrave. She has a warm and giving personality that belies her fierce dedication and devotion to end animal suffering. She tells me that she believes that she was born a rebel and a vegan. Jaylene’s passion for animals stems from the comfort and unconditional love she garnered from her household pets. During the times she needed to find safety and solace from a drunk and violent father, the chickens, dogs and wildlife became her friends and companions.
Even though her father worked at an abattoir and provided her family with quality meat, Jaylene could not bring herself to eat the creatures that had provided such support. So against her father’s wishes and anger, and at the age of 12, she declared herself vegetarian. She began to research about a vegetarian life and even at this young age, Jaylene was aware of the lies and misleading tactics of various food industries.
Jaylene continued her vegetarian lifestyle while working in the music industry. At the age of 18 she became a personal assistant to Jimmy Barnes (Cold Chisel) and Chrissy Amphlett (The Divinyls). The music industry was not known for promoting a healthy lifestyle or humanitarian pursuits, but Jaylene would quietly and subtly plant seeds in the minds of the people she worked with. This included organising activities for band members that precluded cruelty to animals (eg, bowling instead of fishing). Over the years and through a variety of companies Jaylene progressed from being a PA to managing and marketing bands, eventually starting her own company.
But it was while travelling in Turkey and living in England, that Jaylene began to really take note of the fight for animal rights. She became a member of a some action groups in England and this helped raise her awareness of the degree to which animals are subjected to cruelty and torture. Her continued research into the practises of the meat, egg and dairy industry only confirmed her belief that to be able to walk her talk with integrity, she would need to become a vegan. So at 38 she did just that.
On her return to Australia Jaylene tried to find similar groups to those in England who were making a difference to the animal kingdom. What she discovered were a variety of groups who were helping animals, but very few that were actively deterring the ongoing problem – they were active but not pro-active. Disheartened, Jaylene approached a number of groups with suggestions to raise the effectiveness of their approach. And when she started questioning some of the decisions made by some companies, she was quickly black listed. It seemed many of the people involved didn’t want to move out of comfort zone or be expected to get their hands dirty. You see Jaylene is an abolitionist. She doesn’t just want to see animals freed from cruelty- she wants to see it vanquished. This is a woman who walks her talk - who believes if you are going to do something, do it wholeheartedly.
This isn’t something that Jaylene does on a weekend or once a month – this is her life. Veganism is the ultimate in non-violence toward animals. They do not eat any foods that are produced by animals and they do not utilize fur, leather or wool. When Jaylene got engaged she asked that all gifts be gifts of money that could be donated to an animal charity. She and her husband were married on Steve Irwin’s “Whale One” to ensure that the money spent on the wedding went to somewhere worthwhile. Jaylene uses her many contacts in the media industry to keep the plight of animals constantly in the foreground. This is accomplished through radio and television interviews, articles and press releases that feature in the paper and through her interviews with other vegans here and internationally which are regularly featured in Vegan Voice. One television interview is scheduled to be seen by millions on cable channels throughout the world. Jaylene also is a guest speaker at Environment Festivals and at Universities. She says that she would like to see more talks being introduced to schools and universities as so few people are aware of the large scale destruction and deprivation that is perpetuated by our food industries. And although it has become a bit of a solo journey for Jaylene, she realizes that you can’t let your ego get involved. It has to be about the animals and not for personal gain.
Her organization ‘Vegan Warriors’ helps those people who are serious about making a difference to the wellbeing of animals. She does this through helping them to raise their profile or raise funds. At present she is organizing a fundraising dinner and art exhibition to raise funds for two young brothers who devote their time and money driving all over Australia rescuing Koalas (stay tuned details will be on the website). She is one of the directors of “Farm Animal Australia” a new charity based on the highly successful American version. Their aim is to “be Australia's largest sanctuary for animals rescued from factory farms and other incidents of cruelty and neglect.” She has initiated the “Sunshine Coast Helping Save Fraser Island Dingoes” campaign to highlight the plight of the dingoes there. There are 200 of the purest dingoes on the island and they are threatened with extinction. To honour this Jaylene also commissioned a piece by Coolum artist Leigh Hutfield titled “Wild Beauty of Fraser Island’, a stunning painting of proud dingoes on Fraser Island. This piece has been accepted as the first ever to be displayed at Australia Zoo’s Animal Hospital. When the piece is sold, half of the proceeds will go to her campaign and half to the hospital.
Jaylene is a one woman dynamo and a true advocate for our animal companions. Her heart and soul are connected irrevocably with them. Recently she was nominated for the ‘Pride of Australia’ award and although she didn’t win it, she is happy to be the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. Changes can only come if people – the human race – decide to protect the animals. I am sure that if Jaylene could spread the animals’ message to the globe it would be worded something like this ….. “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men”. (Alice Walker).