Tassie calls but heart still here

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Jo Dalton and her family are leaving Brunswick to start a new chapter in Tasmania.
Camera IconJo Dalton and her family are leaving Brunswick to start a new chapter in Tasmania.

The name Jo Dalton is almost synonymous with Brunswick, making it all the more sad when she packs up next month to start her next chapter in Tasmania.

In the 15 years she has been in WA, Jo, pictured, and her husband, Andy, have made a huge mark.

“Leaving Brunswick wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Jo said.

“Andy was offered a fantastic job over there and so it will be a new adventure for us.”

Her Brunswick adventure began in 2006.

Brunswick CRC manager Jo Dalton, right, with Harvey CRC manager Tracey-Ann Davis jumping for joy at news their centres will continue to receive full funding in 2018.
Camera IconBrunswick CRC manager Jo Dalton, right, with Harvey CRC manager Tracey-Ann Davis jumping for joy at news their centres will continue to receive full funding in 2018. Credit: Jacinta Cantatore/Harvey Reporter, Jacinta Cantatore Picture: Jacinta Cantatore

The young couple from New Zealand had wanted a change and decided to give Australia a go.

Andy had not been enamoured with the east coast on trips there, so the pair took a punt on WA.

Andy flew ahead to start work and Jo followed with their then four-year-old and six-month-old children in tow. “At that point, I don’t think I had ever been on a plane,” she said.

The pair lived in Eaton but wanted to put down roots, so bought a house in Brunswick.

“Up until then, I had been very shy about talking to new people, so when I moved to Brunswick I made the conscious decision to say hello to everybody, and I did,” she said. “I was in a new town in a new country. I was determined to make my mark.”

Soon after arriving in town, Jo put her hand up to be secretary of the playgroup, which was run out of the same building as the Community Resource Centre.

Back then, the CRC was open only one day a week.

When her four-year-old child started school, Jo joined the CRC committee as the playgroup representative, becoming head of the committee by 2007. Jo’s friendly attitude opened the door to opportunities, which seemed to keep coming.

“I learnt as I went. I ran events, went to conferences, you name it,” she said. “The opportunities never stopped.”

Brunswick CRC centre manager Jo Dalton.
Camera IconBrunswick CRC centre manager Jo Dalton.

In 2012, when the CRC needed a manager, Jo stepped up once again.

“I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow with the position,” she said.

“I never seem to say no. I see everything as an opportunity. And every opportunity is a learning opportunity.”

This “yes” attitude has been contagious and the CRC now helps the community with everything from Foodbank orders, Centrelink services, help with passport and driver’s licence applications, to cooking meals and hosting special interest groups’ meetings. “We’ve had people come from Bunbury to see us because when they try to apply for a passport or make a change to their licence, they get told in the offices to do it online,” Jo said.

Jo Dalton with Brunswick Primary student councillors and Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke at a Gilly Johnson motivational speech last year.
Camera IconJo Dalton with Brunswick Primary student councillors and Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke at a Gilly Johnson motivational speech last year. Credit: Jacinta Cantatore/Harvey Reporter, Jacinta Cantatore

“Not everyone can do that, so we help people when that face-to-face contact no longer exists.”

Jo said keeping up with all the services was a lot, but she would not have had it any other way.

“It’s a lot of work, but there are a lot of benefits. In the community, everyone is a friend,” she said.

It is going to be hard for the family to leave such close ties.

“People have asked me ‘what are we going to do without you?’, but the way I look at it is that they have given me so much, not the other way around,” Jo said.

“I’ve got great committee members, volunteers, friends and family. I’ve had help all along.”

CRC project officer Tina Wallis stepped up as manager last month for an extended handover with Jo.

“I know that the staff who are staying here love Brunswick just as much as I do,” Jo said.

She will stay on as an associate member, which will mean her trademark early-morning text messages will still be arriving — only a little earlier than usual.

“I’m not sure people are going to appreciate the time difference,” Jo said.

“Some of those texts might arrive at 4am WA time.”

Jo is not sure what this next chapter will mean.

“I don’t think I’d rush into it straight away. My heart is still in Brunswick,” she said.

Jo’s farewell dinner and party will be held at the Brunswick Town Hall on July 10.

More information is available from the Brunswick CRC.

Jo Dalton has passed the cap of Brunswick CRC manager to Tina Wallis.
Camera IconJo Dalton has passed the cap of Brunswick CRC manager to Tina Wallis.

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