Coffee with…Jessica Anson, Manager – Health Promotion, Research and Strategy, Link Health & Community






Describe your work/role at Link H&C

In my role as Manager – Health Promotion, Research and Strategy, I’m responsible for leading and coordinating a team of four incredible practitioners (five if you include me). Our work is focused on planning and implementing a range of primary prevention strategies to promote social inclusion and prevent violence against women through promoting gender equity. Our team also provides organisational grant seeking and management support and contributes to organisational service planning; developing strategy and operational plans in collaboration with our Link colleagues; identifying opportunities to work with partner organisations; and helping to develop initiatives designed to meet gaps in our services.

What excites and motivates you in your role?
I have and likely always will be, a very heart-centred person. I care deeply and for as long as I can remember I’ve been told I wear ‘rose coloured’ glasses when it comes to my desire to make the world a better place. And in my colleagues at Link, I’ve found a shared commitment to creating change, to working with diverse communities across the inner and south-east of Melbourne to understand their strengths and needs, and a fierce determination to see our collective action contribute to improvements in health and wellbeing – without sounding overly clichéd… ‘alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’. In the 5 months since I’ve commenced this role, I’ve also been really heartened and excited by the generosity of spirit and commitment by the many organisations in the East and South-East to collaboratively work together to improve population health outcomes.

What is most challenging about your work?
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this, but the struggle of finding enough time in any one day to do what I need to! As a mum to two amazing little people who are about to commence primary school (twins aged 5), working 3.5 days per week and managing an incredible team with such varied and yet aligned work aspirations and functions, my brain is always ‘ON’. I’m still learning the arts of prioritising and mindfulness, though my multi-tasking abilities are pretty fine-tuned and well…. let’s just say I give high praise to the person who invented post-it notes – I don’t know how I’d manage without them!

Does Link HC work with volunteers? Can you describe how volunteers add value to your work?
The short answer is yes! We have a fantastic volunteer program at Link which is managed by the wonderful Linda Pocervina. Our incredible volunteers support and assist in a variety of ways, some of which include our Community Visitors Scheme where we have volunteers who visit socially isolated residents living in aged care facilities and our LinkPETS volunteers provide social support and practical assistance for pet owners to help them maintain their health, keep socially active and maximize their independence. Within the Health Promotion, Research and Strategy team, we are blessed with the support of several volunteers who assist us with running several of our social inclusion activities including the Link HC Market Trips and our Friday Fun events.

What strengths do you see in the Monash Community?
Gosh, where do you start. The rich cultural diversity in our local communities – Monash is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Australia with 45% of residents born overseas. With that comes incredible levels of resilience and determination. The City of Monash, generally speaking, also has high life expectancies, low levels of crime, high levels of education and unemployment rates that are lower than the Victorian average. However, the data often hides and masks the social and health inequalities that exist within our communities and in community health we are reminded daily of the complex challenges that exist for some of our most vulnerable populations (e.g. refugees and people seeking asylum, people experiencing or at risk of homelessness). And yet, I’m reminded daily that strengths also exist in the volume of organisations across the inner East who are working in partnership to enable health and wellbeing and address health inequalities.

Where do you recommend in Mulgrave for Coffee/ Lunch/ People watching?
This is a tricky question to answer as I’m a tea drinker. More often than not I brew my own tea using my teapot and a selection of varied T2 teas that are an ever-present feature at my desk. Though if I ever need a stroll in the fresh air, The Last Piece in Stadium Circuit is my go-to for a yummy treat!

If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?
I’d like to see more courageous leadership among our world leaders (including our own politicians), where compassion and empathy are a driving force, not fear. Leaders like Jacinda Ardern give me hope that there is capacity for such leadership. Though, when I see the actions of our youth recently taking a stand on climate change, when I see a young girl from QLD sitting in defiance of the national anthem because of its failure to recognise and value our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, when I see youth in the US having class walkouts to support advocacy efforts around gun control and having recently had the privilege to attend Malala Yousafzai’s forum in Melbourne, a young woman whose name is synonymous with triumph over fear and who embodies everything that is needed to be a change maker, I feel hopeful that the future leaders and custodians of our lands will be do a much better job than we are witnessing now.

If you weren’t working at Link HC right now, what would you be doing?
I’d like to say travelling and getting lost in some amazing far away destination. Though as we prepare to transition our daughters to school, being closer to home is a necessity for now and so if I wasn’t working at Link I’d devote a lot more time to exploring my genealogy and attempting to learn about my Aboriginal family history.

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

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