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Fostering community spirit – becoming a JP in regional Victoria

Monday, 30 October 2023 at 11:33 pm

Jess McIntosh says being a justice of the peace (JP) gives her a sense of belonging and purpose in her community.

A recently appointed JP, Ms McIntosh’s calls Warrnambool home and has a furry friend named Dougie.

At just 26, Ms McIntosh is proud and excited to be a JP, she feels like she is joining an entirely new generation of JPs who are committed to giving back to their communities.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be a JP, and excited to serve the community. I believe that every young person has the potential to make a difference, and I am absolutely committed to doing my part,” Ms McIntosh said.

“I hope to use my position to advocate for young people, to help them get involved, and to inspire other young people to become JPs so we can make a difference in communities far and wide.

“I am aware that there are some challenges that come with being a young JP. I may not have as much life or professional experience as others, and I may face different challenges in my community. But I am confident that I can make a positive impact.”

It was the need for more JPs in Victoria and the desire to provide support and assistance to the community that motivated Ms McIntosh to become a JP.

Initially, Ms McIntosh was unsure whether she wanted to become a JP. In fact, she had doubts whether it was something was she could commit to. But after attending a JP information session, she decided it was an effective way for her to give back to the community, and flexible enough to fit in with her work and personal life.

“I love being able to help others, and the opportunity to network with people I might not have crossed paths with otherwise,” Ms McIntosh said.

“It’s not just important for the broader community but giving back has so many personal benefits. Giving back to the community releases dopamine, making us feel happy, satisfied, and motivated, it has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and to improve overall physical health. It’s a win-win.

“When I feel like I’m making a difference in the world, I get a sense of purpose and belonging, and I feel connected to my community.”

Aside from her JP duties, Ms McIntosh has ample experience in volunteering throughout her life in various fields. She has volunteered at Men’s Shed, Bunnings Warehouse fundraising barbecues, Shire Pool Committee, and her local St Vincent’s opportunity shop.

She also keeps busy working in several roles, with one of her main passions being in the healthcare industry.

“I’m currently employed in a few roles,” she added. “I’m a secretary to a Traditional Owners Corporation, executive officer at a healthcare centre, enrolled nurse in a small rural aged and acute care service, and a director on a local hospital board.

“I love knowing I’m making a difference in people's lives, even if it is just in a small way. I was able to learn new things in the constantly evolving healthcare field, so there is always something new to learn.

“I haven’t worked in the Traditional Owners space for long but have enjoyed a unique opportunity to learn about the cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It has been an extraordinarily rewarding and enriching experience.

“Along the same lines as working in healthcare, I’m getting to advocate and support people's rights, help build strength and resilience in the community, and work in this awesome team with people from all walks of life.”

More information

Are you interested in being a Justice of the Peace? Learn more about the process of Becoming a Justice of the Peace.

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