20 July 2015
At YWCA Canberra, we’re really proud of the vibrancy and diversity of our staff team. We’ll be bringing you regular Staff Snapshots so you can meet our team and find out a bit more about the people behind our programs and services. Today, meet Jill Thomsen, Housing Support Officer.
Can you tell us a bit about your role at YWCA Canberra?
I’m a Housing Support Officer – we are a child-focused unit that provide transitional accommodation, outreach, referral and advocacy support to families who are experiencing homelessness. This means we spend a lot of time getting to know families and supporting them to reach their goals. One day you might be helping people with an application for social housing, the next you might be helping someone enroll in an English class, access mental health services, go to court, get their drivers’ license – whatever will help them gain and sustain a permanent tenancy so they can live full and happy lives. The work is unpredictable, but always interesting!
What is the scariest thing you’ve done in the past year?
I interviewed the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, for UN News. I was so nervous that I forgot all of my questions, so I probably came across a little less like Leigh Sales and a little more like Borat.
What’s on your current playlist?
I’m compiling a playlist of ‘activist anthems’, with a mixture of John Butler, Muse, U2, Midnight Oil and daggy protest songs to serenade my friends with on Karaoke Night!
What is the most out-there job you’ve ever had?
I spent a few months working for an aid organisation in Cambodia. When on a remote medical outreach, I got creative with some thongs, some high heels and some plaster and created some makeshift prosthetics for one of the women in the village! The next day, despite my complete lack of medical training (I was there as a project/policy officer), I had to help a doctor perform eye surgery. It was as gory as it sounds. There was no room for squeamishness in that job.
If you had to choose a single thing about the Y that makes you proud to work here, what would it be?
Working with a brilliant and experienced team, working within a feminist framework, and building genuine connections and networks for clients that last long after they exit our service.
When you’re not at work, what’s your relaxation activity of choice?
Going back home to the Gold Coast! I try to go back 4-5 times a year, even if its just for a weekend, to visit my Mum, Nanna and sisters. My sister’s wedding is coming up in October, so I’ve been helping her busily plan for her big day. When I’m not helping her plan her wedding, I’m planning my own with strong input from my fabulous fiancé, Leigh.
Who’s your favourite inspirational woman?
Currently, its Roxane Gay. I can’t get enough of her blunt, unapologetic take on intersectional feminism in her writing and her public appearances. Celeste Liddle and the late Stella Young are also high on my list of brilliant women who have things to say and are not afraid to say it.