5 Questions with Janet Jukes
02 Sep 2021
Thorne Harbour President and longstanding LGBTIQ+ community advocate Janet Jukes OAM shares a bit about her life outside the organisation as she answers our 5 Questions....
Our LGBTI community is made up of a plethora of smaller communities and intersectionalities, how do you identify within these?
I'm a cisgender lesbian and parent of blended rainbow family.
What motivated you to not only get involved with Thorne Harbour Health but become its President?
Thorne Harbour is an amazing LGBTIQ community-controlled health organisation with a strong volunteer and activist history. I really wanted to bring my governance and NGO management skills and networks to engage, listen to, and learn from all of our stakeholders and deliver outstanding and effective programs and services. Plus, by being president I get to meet many of our amazing staff, volunteers, and services users and get to listen to how we can improve and serve their needs. As a community movement, we are only as strong as our community and I’m really proud to play my small part in this.
Is there any aspect of Thorne Harbour’s work that you’re particularly passionate about?
It’s really hard to pinpoint one area......
I’m really proud of the part that we have played in tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic both here in Australia and as part of a global community of action over the past 25 years or so. We are now at a point where we can imagine an Australia with no new transmissions and with no deaths from AIDS. We’re not there yet, but its within our reach and that’s something to be really proud of. Of course we are continuing this work through our health promotion, HIV support activities, and primary health and allied health activities and I’m really proud of our commitment to keep doing this work until the HIV/AIDS epidemic is truly over.
I’m also proud of our work to transition to a LGBTIQ health organisation that is owned and controlled by our LGBTIQ communities. This transition is really in its infancy but we are already doing so much fantastic work. There are too many things to mention them all, but couple highlights for me are the very successful trans health program through Equinox and our soon to be launched women's strategy which builds on several successful health promotion campaigns including Rethink the Drink's 'I couldn’t have done that with a hangover' and of course our peer support activities.
When you’re not serving on the Board of Thorne Harbour Health – what do you get up to?
In my day job I manage a counselling and mediation organisation call Relationship Matters. It’s a state-wide organisation operating across Melbourne, Geelong and Wangaratta. When I’m not at work I’m a parent of two grown children (who don’t live at home) and two teens (who most definitely still do)...... and when I’m not locked down, I love to travel, swim, read, snorkel and generally hang out at the beach.
You were recently awarded an OAM - what’s it feel like to have that honour?
To be honest, it’s been really humbling. I was awarded the OAM for ‘Services to LGBTIQ advocacy and to social welfare organisations’. Of course all of the successes over my career has been because of the hard work, creativity and grit of a lot of people. I played my part but so did a lot of other people who won’t be recognised in this way. So to my mind, the award honours our LGBTIQ+ community movement, and the efforts of all those who have made a difference to our rights and our lives over the past 30 plus years.
I believe that a community movement is only as strong as the community who moves it. So the honour reflects far we have come....because of course, a few decades ago people like us would never have been considered for honours such as this.