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Jo: welfare worker, Southbank

Jo Blair standing in the Hanover foyer

Closer to home

Jo Blair first became interested in homelessness when she discovered she had some distant relatives who had become homeless after becoming estranged from their families.

For the past ten years, in Scotland and now Melbourne, Jo has worked with people who are homeless and who often have additional problems including mental health issues, injecting drug use and alcohol dependency.

She is currently a support and project worker at Hanover Welfare Services in Melbourne.

“My main role is managing the day-to-day dynamics within the building. It’s a 46-bed crisis accommodation facility. I’m on the front desk, responding to clients’ immediate needs and answering phones. I’m also the first point of contact if anyone presents with any challenging behaviours.”

Jo says meeting people from such a range of different backgrounds and circumstances is the most enjoyable aspect of her work, and seeing people’s situations improve is the most satisfying. For her, patience, a calm demeanour, a sense of humour, and good listening and communication skills are the key qualities a welfare worker can bring to their role.

“Skills I learned as an assistant manager in a hotel complex have also helped me manage emergency accommodation residences,” she says. “There’s a lot of similarity between working in hospitality and homelessness, believe it or not.”

Click here to view the Welfare Worker occupation page

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