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Studio portrait photograph of Joanne Farrell

Founder, Build Like a Girl
Australian Capital Territory | 2024 Australian of the Year

Joanne (Jo) Farrell fought hard to pursue her dream job as a builder – even working for free to gain an apprenticeship. She ultimately succeeded, becoming a qualified carpenter and builder working on major projects in Australia and overseas. In 2020 Jo founded Build Like a Girl, a not-for-profit organisation that mentors women and matches them with training and employment in the construction industry. She also works with government, industry bodies and unions to help them recruit and train women in trade roles.

When you’re surrounded by people who constantly reinforce that you can do and be anything, it’s very easy to walk your own path and have the life of adventure that I’ve had.

If you want to change something that you don’t like, sooner or later you need to stop talking and do something about it.

Steel hammer and hard hat

Hammers and hard hats are essential items on any construction site. Jo bought this hammer, the industry best, at the end of her hard-earned apprenticeship; and she wore this hard hat on site every day. For Jo, they are more than the tools of the trade. They are symbolic, representing her perseverance, leadership and belonging in the male-dominated construction industry.

Photo of a steel hammer and hard hat

Steel hammer and hard hat from Joanne Farrell

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.

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