Since 1976, Jo has worked for the community as a social work practitioner, researcher, consultant, manager, leader, and social entrepreneur. Her passion is the wellbeing of children.
Jo commenced working at Family Life in 1994 and has been Chief Executive Officer since 1996. For over 20 years, Jo has led Family Life on a program of social innovation, evidence-informed practice, and organisational learning, which has created sustained and transformative change for vulnerable families, children and young people.
Over her career, Jo has worked in juvenile justice and out-of-home care, and as a pre-hearing convener for the Melbourne Children’s Court, where she implemented alternative dispute resolution for family and criminal divisions. She has held a range of leadership positions on regional, state and national government advisory bodies, and is a regular presenter at national and international conferences and forums.
Jo is a published author and has been consulted for and cited in many influential research publications including reports from the Australian Government, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Mercy Family Services, CREATE Foundation, Centre for Social Impact, Australian Law Reform Commission, and Monash University. In 1990, Jo was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study the prevention of child abuse in the United States.
Her ability to lead social change has been recognised by a Robyn Clarke Inspirational Leadership award and a Paul Harris Rotary Fellowship. In 2014, Jo received the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Award (Social Enterprise/Not for Profit). The 100 Women of Influence Awards showcase the country’s highest-achieving women each year. Since November 2015, Jo has held the position of Adjunct Associate Professor with the Faculty of Law and Business at Swinburne University which includes the Centre for Social Impact and Centre for Transformational Innovation.
In 2013, Jo was awarded an Order of Australia for her outstanding achievement and service.
Want to read more – View Jo Cavanagh’s Biography.
Want to read articles profiling Jo and Family Life – visit Jo’s contributions to publications and media articles.