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Changemaker- Jodie Willmer

24 June 2013 at 11:20 am
Staff Reporter
This week we profile Jodie in Changemakers – a weekly column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.

Staff Reporter | 24 June 2013 at 11:20 am


Changemaker- Jodie Willmer
24 June 2013 at 11:20 am

Jodie Willmer is the CEO of Travellers Aid Australia. She took on the role in 2006, overseeing a period of continued consolidation and growth.

This week we profile Jodie in Changemakers – a weekly column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.

As well as being on the Federal Government's Victoria State Consultative Committee, Jodie is the President of the incorporated organisation ER (Emergency Relief) Victoria. She was also recently appointed to the Victorian Council on Social Service (VCOSS) Board, and chairs the Community Services Futures Task Group.

Travellers Aid Australia is a Not for Profit organisation with a 95-year history. Since 1916, it has supported travellers by providing simple, practical travel-related support and aid that helps people travel independently and confidently, no matter what their background.

What are you currently working on in the organisation?

We are developing a range of consulting services including training for corporates, Not for Profits and government about transport disadvantage, and ways they can overcome usage barriers to improve equity and access.

What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?

I am passionate about social justice, and working in the Not for Profit sector enables my team of staff and volunteers to achieve positive outcomes with clients, and stakeholders.

How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?

Since 2004 with the Not for Profit sector, but prior to that I worked as an advocacy and membership manager for a peak tourism industry body. 

What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?

Volunteer co-ordinator for the Victorian Seniors Festival employed by the Council on the Ageing. My role was to recruit and train older people as volunteers to engage them with the festival , not just attend events. I went on to be the acting general manager of the Queen Victorian Women's Centre

What is the best thing about working in the Not for Profit sector?

Being resourceful and focused, and working for and with great people.

What do you like best about working in your current organisation?

Problem solving and innovation. The clients who use Travellers Aid's services are actually customers/passengers of the public transport system and other not for profits, in the case of our travel related emergency relief service, for travellers in crisis and emergency. We are at the coal face and are able to see a range of systemic issues impact on people's independence, autonomy and dignity. The roll out of DisabilityCare Australia has exciting opportunities for people with a disability, and we anticipate much greater demand for our services in new locations, and new ways.

I consider my greatest achievement to be…

Repositioning Travellers Aid whilst respecting our rich long history since 1916. Change management is a journey and since I started as CEO in 2006, some highlights are negotiating an enterprise agreement that replaced 7 industrial awards, redesigning job roles to better meet client needs and recruiting quality, skilled talent, building strong relationships with board, funders and donors are some of the highlights.

Favourite saying…

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m always being asked…

Where have we met ? I volunteered as broadcaster on a weekly travel show on a community station JOY 94.9 for 15 years. I enjoy public speaking and radio and often people think we have met personally! 

I’m very bad at…

Saying no. Most weekends I have breakfast meetings with friends of friends on how to get into the sector, catch up with colleagues to problem solve, share templates and information. I really appreciate people who make time for me, and like to do the same for others.

What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment? 

Listening to speakers from the Travelers Aid international conference, just held in New Orleans about the resilience of the communities who survived Hurricane Katrina, and the role of our services in supporting passengers with disabilities at airports, and the prevention of human trafficking.

If you could be or do anything else, what would it be?

A diplomat. I love meeting people from all around the world, and enjoy travel and learning about new cultures. 

School taught me …

That it is ok not to know what you want to do when you grow up and there are multiple paths to being a successful leader, not just via academic study.

What inspires you? Who inspires you?

People who speak out and act on injustice, and play a part in the solution.

Is there someone in your organisation who would make a good Changemaker? Let us know at 

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