The final member of our #RunforFemiliPNG team who we are interviewing is Jody Clouten. Jody has an extensive background in humanitarian work and is currently working with ACT Health. Jody is running in the 5km event on Saturday.
Why did you choose to take part in the Australian Running Festival to raise funds for Femili PNG?
When I was initially thinking about entering the Running Festival, I considered supporting a bigger charity; but in the end I decided on Femili PNG. It is good to support the smaller charities and Femili PNG punches way above its weight. For such a small organisation, there is so much evidence of its effectiveness. There’s plenty of data that shows Femili PNG achieves good, strong outcomes in helping survivors of family and sexual violence.
So you’ve recently moved to Canberra?
I moved to Canberra in July last year and love it here. Prior to that I was in Ballarat working for local government. At the moment I’m working in policy with ACT Health. I’m really enjoying it as the work is so varied. We cover a wide variety of policy, everything from drugs and poisons to food.
Your background has been mostly in health, but in humanitarian settings?
I’ve worked in water and sanitation health (WASH) for years. I’ve worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Iraq and Bangladesh, and with Aspen Medical also in Iraq and Sierra Leone. I was working in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis, which was very challenging. Through Australian Volunteers International, I was also a WASH Technical Adviser in Zambia with UNICEF. Most of my work has involved setting up and maintaining WASH facilities in a hospital setting.
My experience in Australia has mostly been working in environmental health with local governments. I enjoy working in the local government context as it is very hands-on and operational. It is also how I became interested in disaster management as local government is very much at the forefront when a disaster strikes.
That’s an amazing career, how did you get into the humanitarian field?
Early on, when I was a graduate and in the army reserve, I worked in an Indigenous community in the Kimberley. I remember when the time came to leave and our flight was landing back at Amberley air force base; everyone else was glad to be home and excited to see their families, but I just wanted to go back to the Kimberley. That’s how it started for me.
I did a Masters in Public Health, focusing on Indigenous health, but then became interested in international health issues.
Is there a place that you’ve worked that has particularly affected you?
I think they have all affected me in many ways. Sierra Leone was my first emergency work, and Iraq was my first conflict zone. That sort of thing doesn’t leave you. It is the people who are amazing. The Iraqis have been through so much, yet my colleagues there were so resilient, still turning up to work each day, striving to build a better community.
It was the same in Sierra Leone. Many of the locals I worked with there had lost family members – brothers, sisters, grandparents, mothers – to Ebola. They knew the risks but kept working in the facility anyway.
I feel very blessed to have done the work that I do. It is humbling. It also makes me realise how good we have it in Australia. How we shouldn’t get too comfortable and forget how lucky we are, which is why I’m also supporting Femili PNG.
I’ve never been to PNG. At one stage I was going to volunteer on YWAM Medical Ships (which travel to PNG). But then I ended going to Zambia.
How is your training going for the 5km run?
I did my first park run in a long time on Saturday. I was really pleased as I managed to do it in under 40 minutes. Now that it’s a bit cooler, I can go for a run at lunchtime, so I can get in a little more training beforehand. I enjoy running when I’m fit, but I don’t when I am unfit. It’s not easy to get back into running when you’re past 40!
To sponsor Jody and the #RunForFemiliPNG team and support the work of Femili PNG, visit our fundraising page.