Meet the team – Jo Hatcher

July 14, 2021

Jo Hatcher has joined the VHA in the role of Policy and Advocacy Advisor. Jo brings a wealth of experience from roles in local government, the youth sector and academia where she led the development of strategy, policy, and stakeholder engagement. Jo has a particular interest in gender equity, rural and regional affairs, and prevention.

Tell members a bit about your background – where has your career taken you and what brought you to the VHA?

I have a Bachelor of Nutritional Science and Master of Public Health. After graduating from my undergraduate degree, I worked as a nutritionist. Whilst I enjoyed this work, I felt that I could have more impact undertaking work to shape policy and address the determinants of health that were behind so many of the chronic diseases and patterns of disordered eating that I was supporting clients with daily.

It was while cycle touring across Europe in 2008 that I made the decision to enrol in a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH). Once I got started, I realised that this was the best decision I had ever made. The MPH opened my eyes to new policy areas of interest, expanded my networks and opened many doors.

From there, I have worked in various roles in local government where I have led the development, implementation and evaluation of health, youth and gender equity policy, strategies, and partnerships. I also have previous experience working for Victoria’s youth peak body, the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic), where I was responsible for leading policy and advocacy campaigns relevant to rural and regional young people and the youth sector. This included leading the expansion of YACVic’s rural program, which saw three satellite services established across the state.

I was drawn to the VHA because I really enjoyed my previous role working for a peak body and I am particularly excited by the opportunity to work with members from across the state to shape our policy and advocacy efforts and achieve positive outcomes for the healthcare sector and community.

What are you working on at the moment / what projects are you excited about?

My current portfolio areas include aged care, community health and gender equality.

So far, meeting with members has been a real highlight for me. It has been interesting to hear some common themes emerging including workforce challenges, infrastructure, the challenges that come with responding to the Aged Care and Mental Health Royal Commissions, as well as recently implemented legislation, such as the Gender Equality Act – all while responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

I am really looking forward to working closely with Victoria’s Public Sector Residential Aged Care Services (PSRACS) and Community Health Services on upcoming advocacy campaigns. It is an honour to work with and act as a voice for these important and often under-recognised services.

What do you love about working in the public health space?

Working in public health is never boring. I really value the opportunities that it has given me to learn, meet and work with incredibly skilled and knowledgeable people and to help shape policy that will hopefully result in better health outcomes for the community as well as a well-resourced, resilient and person-centred health system.