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Dr Jo Fildes

Dr Jo Fildes is the Head of Research and Evaluation at Mission Australia, working on the Youth Survey project, an important advocacy piece. Crucial that young people participate, they use the survey results to present their needs, values and concerns across the media, to governments and to other service providers.

This is her story.

I have been involved in research for many years, with a focus on giving a voice to those people who often struggle to be heard.

When I came to Mission Australia I had the opportunity to work on the Youth Survey, and saw this as a chance to further my interests around getting young people to participate in a project that helped then have a say in the issues that they are facing. 

We continually see that young people face a number of challenges as they transition from adolescence  into adulthood, whether these be around the stress they feel or their ability to cope. However, we also find that many young people have an optimism and enthusiasm about their future which is great.

While this is positive, when we take a further look at the responses, we see some young people who are struggling with issues such as mental health and homelessness, which are detrimental to their development and can have long term and lasting effects. For these young people, we continue to need to advocate for a service system that meets their needs.

We are currently in data collection period for the 2018 Youth Survey, which are hoping to be the largest so far. This allows us to work on some of the issues facing young people, and we am currently working on a youth homelessness paper to highlight the concerns of this vulnerable group.

During my time at Mission Australia I have seen the Youth Survey become increasingly recognized by governments, policy makers and the community, which means we are able to provide a stronger voice for young people. 

For us to continue to be heard we need to get young people more involved.

I grew up in England, and have an older brother and sister who I remain close to.  At school I would have been described as a ‘chatterbox’ and only really focused on studying when I was older. I trained as a nurse which I did for around 15 years, before going to university, however some of those nursing skills have stayed with me all these years. I have lived in Australia with my two daughters for the last 16 years and love the wide open spaces but sometimes I do find it too hot!

It took me a while to find out what I wanted to do and I went down one road and then took another and it was fine – I still got to my destination. I really enjoy working at Mission Australia but I had to try a few other  jobs first but it was worth it in the end.


Young People aged 15-19 are encouraged to take the survey