More About Jo

I was born in Melbourne and came to Adelaide as a toddler with my parents and two sisters when my father Ken got a job at the University of Adelaide. My mother Maureen was also an academic, teaching at the University of South Australia, before a mid-career transition into aid work in PNG. 


We settled in the seat of Boothby and I attended school in the area before studying at the University of Adelaide, graduating in Law and Arts. I was saved from a life in the law by working casually at the State Theatre Company of South Australia in my final year at Uni and being offered a fulltime job upon graduation. I have since forged a career in the arts working with organisations such as Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Writers’ Festival.    


Since 2018, I have been Director of Adelaide Writers’ Week and presented my final festival in March.  It was terrific!  My program very much reflected my interests and priorities - you can see the sessions I chaired with Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd, and with Grace Tame and Jess Hill on the media pages of this site. Working at the Adelaide Festival for the past 4 years means I have now worked for or collaborated with all the major performing arts and film organisations in South Australia, including State Theatre, the Adelaide Fringe, Windmill Theatre Company, the Adelaide Film Festival and the South Australian Film Corporation. The commitment to culture and ideas is central to our state and is the defining motivation of my professional life.   


I established production company Soft Tread Enterprises in 2008 dedicated to bringing Australian stories to the screen and stage and have presented shows at the Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Sydney Opera House, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai and the legendary Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. My films have won awards and screened worldwide, notably at the Berlin International Film Festival.    


To see the type of work I produce, take a look at our award-winning feature Lucky Miles, my debut film written and directed by Michael James Rowland, which has latterly and uselessly been categorised as an underrated gem. It opened the Adelaide Film Festival in 2006 and, despite its success, it still deserves many more viewers. More prosaically, Soft Tread means I am now a dab hand at navigating the administrative and regulatory requirements of running a small business – I feel your pain, business owners. 


I recently wrote my first book, Burning Down the House: Reconstructing Australian Politics, which was published by Monash University Press in February and, amongst other things, examines the reasons behind the new Community Independents movement sweeping the country. You can read more about it and purchase it here. 

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