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Class of 1990 – Josie Jones

Class of 1990 Alumna, Josephine (Josie) Jones, is currently the school’s only Australian of the Year recipient.

From 2002 to 2006 Josie lived in Tahiti, and it was this experience that changed her habits and her way of life. In this micro environment Josie clearly saw the effects that one person has on the earth. It was in Tahiti that Josie also became a mother to her son, Taihere. “In all that I do” Josie said, “I am a mum first”.

Since 2006, Josie has volunteered over 10,000 hours and countless dollars to improve the water quality in Mornington Peninsula’s bays, personally collecting over 5.6 tonnes of rubbish from its shorelines. Devoting every spare moment to stopping litter from entering Mornington’s waterways, Josie also engages her community through advocacy campaigns to inspire change. She has personally committed to educate stakeholders and inspire others to take care of the environment through consultations with local government, community groups, corporations, schools and businesses; and through public speaking and social media.

Josie is a graphic designer and she has used her skills successfully to dramatically decrease cigarette butts on local streets through her ‘The Only Butt’ campaign to further clean up the environment.

When we asked Josie about her time at St Paul’s, she remembers the friendships formed. “When I started in Year 7 we were the first year level to commence at the new school. At that stage, St Paul’s only went to Year 10. The older year levels embraced us. Friendships were made across years that perhaps would not have eventuated if there were more of us!”

The foundation Principal of St Paul’s, Des Parker, also made a lasting impact on Josie. “Each year we would watch Des Parker’s vision for the school evolve; new and temporary buildings were erected; and we felt proud of what the logo for St Paul’s represented. The gaps between the letters were explained to us by Mr Parker as the representation for us to always be growing as individuals, a school and a community. I’ll never forget the day that Mr Parker explained to us his vision as a Principal and as a Christian. As a graphic designer I understand what Mr Parker meant. He was showing us, that whilst the S and P join to make the tree, the gaps display growth… but also the qualities of kindness, faith, hope, generosity, love and prosperity.”

Josie’s outstanding work for the environment has received recognition through awards that include the Dame Phyllis Frost Award in 2016 and the 2017 Litter Prevention prize from Keep Victoria Beautiful. She is currently the 2020 Victoria Local Hero for the Australian of The Year Award and she was also the Mornington Peninsula Australia Day Citizen of the Year in 2019.

Josie said, “I love people and I love inspiring people. I think that by picking up litter, that was my way of giving back and showing people that no matter what happens you can always do something good. Either for yourself, or for someone else, or for something else. In my case it’s choosing to preserve and protect the marine environment and to respect the land”.

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