Celebrating International Women’s Day – Joy Leggo OAM, Cultura

Joy Leggo - Cultura March 2024

Joy has been the CEO of Cultura since its creation in May 2021; prior to that she was the inaugural CEO of Multicultural Aged Care Services for 28 years, which recently merged with Diversitat to become Cultura.

Cultura is a multi-faceted organisation covering service delivery from humanitarian support, immigration services, employment programs, pre-accredited training such as English classes, aged care services, residential, home care, centre-based services and end-of-life care.

It also delivers a range of services through its family services and community development arm from financial counselling, mental health, youth, domestic violence, community development for new and emerging communities arriving in Geelong, and men’s and women’s support groups for specific nationalities.

Cultura also runs the amazing Pako Festa each year, which attracts over 100,000 people to Pakington Street and is a true celebration of diversity and community harmony.

Having worked in the for purpose sector for the last 30 years, Joy says that she is a values-driven leader and that it is Cultura’s purpose, vision and values that drive her to do the work she does.

“Cultura exists to provide innovative services to support, care for and celebrate culturally diverse individuals throughout their life journey,” she said.

“The most important value for me is kindness, where we hold people in high regard and are considerate of everyone’s unique qualities with kindness, compassion and understanding.”

Joy says that there is no one significant outcome or highlight of her time in the role because each day her team are making a difference in the lives of a vulnerable sector of our community.

“Be it the aged or a new arrival who is welcomed into this city; it may be a student who we take from being able to speak very little English to being able to have a conversation; or supporting someone who is at risk of homelessness, domestic violence, suffering trauma, requiring financial counselling or mental health,” she said.

“It is not the big things it is the myriad of small things that staff do each and every day that connects them with our diverse communities and what their needs are.”

When asked about her hope for the future of the organisation, Joy points to continuing to be a welcoming community in Geelong for new arrivals.

“The world is so unsettled at the moment and the community harmony and respect that is shown in this town is quite humbling. Our ethnic communities bring a richness of culture, food, music and traditions into our society that adds a vibrancy to everything we do.”

When asked what International Women’s Day means, Joy acknowledges the worth of women and her joy in celebrating with them at Cultura, where they sing and dance in language.

“Some of these women have worked really hard to learn the words in English of “I am Woman” and then sing it so proudly,” she said.

“It is also about facilitating a safe place to allow both the young and the old to have a voice, have their opinion valued and to take the time to listen to what they have to say.”

When asked if she had any advice for other women working in the for purpose sector, Joy says that if you are just starting out in your career, find a mentor.

“I have had two amazing mentors in my career, one male, one female, both different in their approach, one nurturing, one challenging, create a relationship with them according to your journey,” she said.

“Believe in yourself; yes, you will make mistakes, but pick yourself up, learn from them and move on. As women, we have a lot to offer our community from our emotional intelligence to our compassion, intellect and problem-solving skills. There are times you will be surprised when someone will come up to you and say, ‘do you know you really made a difference in my life?’ It’s not the big things that can make a difference but rather all of the small things that you do that can make a world of difference.”


Follow us