Choose a role where you’re supported to be bold

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Achieve Australia CEO Jo-Anne Hewitt has built a career walking beside people with disability as they determine what is best for them.

Starting in frontline roles, Jo-Anne has chosen work and study opportunities to support her goal of having a positive impact on people’s lives while growing her professional skills and experience.

“I made a deliberate decision to move into the NFP sector early in my career,” Jo-Anne explains. “I was influenced by growing up with a mother with a disability who never allowed people to tell her what she was capable of.”

“My first job was working as a teacher’s aide in a disability service. My work inspired my decision to go to university,” she recalls.

“I then worked as a social educator with children and young people at a boarding school while studying for a psychology degree.”

“The sisters running the school had met Wolf Wolfensberger – the champion of what was called ‘normalisation’ in disability – and I learnt a lot about the social model of disability during this time. And about choosing job roles that let us be bold in finding ways to support people with disability to develop and share their own ideas of how they want to live their lives.”

“To this day, I continue to learn from people with disability whether people we support, Board members at Achieve and colleagues and others in my network,” Jo-Anne says.

Australia’s journey toward inclusion has been a constant source of motivation for Jo-Anne - at times rewarding and at other times frustrating.

Her ability to influence outcomes grew as she moved into senior leadership roles with Mission Australia, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, The Benevolent Society and Uniting Care Disability. You can view Jo-Anne’s LinkedIn profile to see a full list of her senior roles and education.

“I consciously gathered the right supports around me on a personal and professional level too as I developed my career,” Jo-Anne says. 

“This includes having an incredible partner in my husband Dennis who took on the primary role at home where we raised 4 children together,” she says. 

“It also involved being given stretch projects at work, learning and mentoring support, experience leading people, and other opportunities to contribute to the quality of services.” 

Jo-Anne was appointed CEO of Achieve Australia in August 2019 and immediately set about working with her team to create a more financially sustainable, innovative and purpose driven organisation.

“We specialise in supporting people with complex disability to be part of their communities and make decisions about all aspects of their lives,” Jo-Anne explains.

“To do this well, means providing our frontline staff with continuous training and support. We created a Senior Support Worker role to model best practice to our frontline staff. We also want our Service Coordinators and Service Managers to be bold in working with their teams and our clients to create new opportunities for the people we support.”

“We hold regular learning and discussion sessions for our frontline managers as well as an annual offsite conference.”

“Many of our Service Managers and Service Coordinators are selected for our Emerging Leaders mentoring program. And I am also very proud of our record of promoting from within to fill a range of roles including general manager and business roles.”

“I have always gained so much professional satisfaction from working in the disability services sector – a sector that has only become more dynamic and interesting in the last decade.”

“We often remark that there is, ‘never a dull day at Achieve Australia’. If that sounds like you, I invite you to stay across our available roles and join us. I look forward to meeting you.”

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