Jo became part of the Karinya House community not long after the doors opened in 1997, volunteering to take on the bookkeeping role as it developed. From day one, Karinya’s roots have not stopped finding their way into Jo’s life.

Jo, a Chartered Accountant, started volunteering (doing the ‘books’) at Karinya in 1998. After moving to Newcastle in 2008, and transitioning the Karinya bookkeeping progressively to an external bookkeeping service provider, Jo continued to be a part of the Karinya community and took up a position on the Committee. Jo also continued providing advice over the phone and strategic oversight of the finance and business operations. Jo moved back to Canberra in 2015, and took up a vacant position with Karinya in a finance and business role to oversee the business operations transition to the new complex.

Jo commutes three days a week from Boorowa, where she lives with her wife, Belinda.  As is the way of Karinya, Belinda also now provides volunteer hours for Karinya! Boorowa is located just over an hour from Canberra and the region is very supportive of the work of Karinya. The annual Mercy Walk for Women, from Boorowa to Galong, raises funds for Karinya House. And this year, Karinya House was also supported by the Boorowa Rugby Club – Ladies Day. Working the remainder of the week from home, Jo describes Boorowa and their home there as a place of respite from the fast paced society we live in; she can go home, breathe, put the phone in the cupboard and appreciate life.

Jo’s role at Karinya, with collaborative and critical support from the small administration team, Marie-Louise and Committee Treasurer Kathleen Buckley, involves donor and funding partner liaison and management, planning, communications, liaising with IT and finance providers, social media, budgeting… the list goes on. “Everyone at Karinya does a lot of different things”, she explained.

What do you believe makes Karinya House so important?

“Services like Karinya, sadly, will always have a role in many communities. Karinya House itself is not about getting bigger, going global or Australia wide. It is about the Canberra and regional community and supporting that community. It is about supporting a particular group of people with respect and recognition. People who are often quite marginalised or minimised. The work that Karinya does is about walking alongside women, supporting them to use the knowledge, wisdom and lived experience they have in this challenging society in which we live.”

What do you believe is key for the future of Karinya House?

“I think the sustainability of Karinya House is really connected to the Canberra and regional community. Financial Friends of Karinya are a critical key. Members of our community investing a little each week, or each month in the lives and futures of some very significant members of our community.  It is important that we bring the community along with us, in everything that we do. For the next 20 years, just as they’ve been with us for the last.”

What stands out to you most from the work that goes on at Karinya House?

“The stand out is the women. I hear glimpses of many of the stories. I am constantly inspired by the women at Karinya. Whilst some of the stories are quite challenging, I think overall, we all just feel so privileged to share in a woman’s life the way we do. I think it is really important for the people who support us to share in that as well.”

What do you believe makes a strong woman?

“The strong women i know and look up to, I think I could point to them and say, they are strong because they have such a strong sense for the other.”

  Jo (right) with Belinda at the 2017 Dirt De Femme, representing Karinya House as the Charity Partner for this event.