John James Foundation passes the ball to Joe Roff

Former Wallabies and Brumbies player, Joe Roff, has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the John James Foundation.  In August 2017, he will replace Phil Greenwood who is retiring after 7 years in the role and 20 years of leadership in the not-for-profit sector.

Joe Roff said he was extremely pleased to be appointed to the position.

“The John James Foundation is a leader in its field.  The Foundation undertakes incredible work that benefits our community and much further afield but is often unsung.  I am excited to be joining an organisation that makes a positive difference, of which Canberra can be proud.”

“I have been involved in our community for more than 20 years.  In this role, I will be seeking to leverage my relationships and experiences to build on the strong partnerships and programs that already exist at the Foundation.”

“An example of this has been the partnership approach in the recent development of the John James Village, a sanctuary for people and families living with blood cancer.  I am looking forward to playing an integral part in the exciting future of the Foundation.”

Joe Roff is moving from the University of Canberra, where he has held the position of CEO of the University of Canberra Union.  The University is quickly becoming a leading University for sport in Australia and Joe Roff was instrumental in bringing the Brumbies and the UC Capitals to the campus during his tenure.

Prior to his time at the University, Joe Roff was the Director for Workforce and Development at Lifeline Australia and has remained committed to the not for profit and charity sector.  He has been an ambassador for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, RUOK and White Ribbon.  He is well known to many having spent 10 years playing professional rugby union for the Brumbies and Wallabies.

John James Foundation Chair Professor Paul Smith congratulated Joe Roff on his appointment and thanked Phil Greenwood for what he has achieved.

“Phil Greenwood has led John James Foundation from a fledging charity to a prominent backer and instigator of local, interstate, and international activities.  It now has credibility in Canberra as a supporter and funder of many highly valued projects,” Professor Smith said.

The John James Foundation is a Canberra based medical charity with a proud history of support of volunteer work by medical specialists and medical educators.  The Foundation funds medical education activities and provides opportunities for clinical placements for medical students.  It supports local grassroots organisations by providing cash grants to fund activities that may not otherwise find financial support.

As a not-for-profit organisation, the Foundation uses income from its land holdings to support its programs and medical education activities.

In 2016, the John James Village opened on land donated by the ACT Government to provide short-term residential accommodation for the families and carers of people undergoing treatment for blood cancer and related diseases.  This seven-million-dollar project, fully funded by the Foundation, was handed over to the Leukaemia Foundation at no cost to them or to the people who now use the facility.

“It is a privilege to be able to support some grassroots organisations doing tremendous work, often running on a budget of nothing but providing much needed support.”

“The work of volunteer medical specialists, numerous projects that benefit people in need in Canberra, the Solomon Islands and everywhere that the Foundation organises assistance and backs local charities is truly inspirational – it is that satisfaction that makes the Foundation such a great place to work, even better with such a dedicated staff who really work miracles,” Phil Greenwood said.

“Joe Roff is well placed to take the John James Foundation to the next stage of its life and development as a prominent medical charity.”

Prior to his various roles in the not for profit sector, Phil Greenwood was a Wing Commander with 23 years of Air Force service in Administration.  He will continue his involvement in the not for profit sector through volunteer work, interspersed with opportunities to travel, following his retirement in September.


Canberra disability service organisation Sharing Places, established more than 28 years ago, is a first time recipient of the Foundation’s Community Health Program funding in 2017.

The $20,000 grant will assist Sharing Places continue to support post-school aged people with disability and high and complex needs.

Sharing Places began in 1989 when a group of parents decided there had to be more options available for their children, all with different disabilities, after they completed secondary education.

The Pearce-based organisation started out working with 16 young adults, and now has more than 150 clients with a range of physical, health and behavioural disabilities. About 86 paid staff work in 12 teams to “create opportunities to assist people to share the ordinary places and activities of ordinary community life.”

The service focuses on assisting participants develop life skills in a community environment, enhancing people’s quality of life and helping them to achieve self-determination. With the support of Sharing Places’ qualified staff, many participants work voluntarily in the community in roles including at Meals on Wheels, assisting elderly people with shopping and other chores and delivering spare parts for vehicle businesses.

According to Sharing Places’ business manager Alicia Gaudie, many clients become like family, remaining with the organisation from the time they begin accessing services, around age 18, until they are 60 or more.

“We are here to help with the sort of things that are often taken for granted – to help people achieve their goals, contribute to society and of course to have fun,” she said.

Community outings are a focus at Sharing Places, with a fleet of 14 specially modified vehicles available. Most participants cannot use public transport because of their level of disability.

More recently, rising costs such as those associated with running so many vehicles and the 2014 start of the National Disability Insurance Scheme have required Sharing Places to develop a new business model to maintain the quality and diversity of its services.

“Some of the changes mean families are bearing more costs than previously, so we’ve started seeking sponsorship and developing fund-raising activities to minismise the impact of this where possible,” Alicia explained.

“The John James Foundation grant is very timely and really welcome.

“It means we’ll be able to replace ageing equipment such as walkers to help people develop lower body strength, sports gear, gym hoists to help people out of wheelchairs and to continue with vehicle modifications.

“These are all part of our everyday activities and an important part of the way Sharing Places supports people towards active participation and independence.”


The Foundation’s signature project, John James Village, officially opened in August 2016 and is now operating at full capacity to provide much-needed respite accommodation for people with blood cancer and related illnesses, their families and carers.

The practical value of the Village is highlighted by a quick count showing the six units have already provided more than 1,000 bed nights to patients, families and carers since opening. All Members of the Foundation can be proud of the lasting contribution the Village is making to healthcare in the Canberra region.

The successful completion of the $7-million-plus project on land donated by the ACT Government at Garran also marked the achievement of an important Foundation goal set out in the Strategic Plan 2014-2019. The widespread community recognition the Village has achieved highlights the Foundation’s ability to successfully deliverer major charitable activities across the ACT, surrounding regions and much further afield.

Residents and community organisations have also quickly become Village supporters. One nearby retiree Mrs Margie Whitrow cooks and delivers nutritious meals for patients each week using produce provided by food rescue organisation OzHarvest (also a Community Health program recipient). Longstanding Village supporter, the Order of Australia Association ACT Branch, asked green thumb members to take part in a mid-winter garden working bee – complete with a fireside BBQ afterwards in the recreation room.

The Foundation is now considering how to progress Stage 2 of John James Village. The aim is to add capacity to the Village to meet the needs of patients already on a waiting for this specialised accommodation. Initial discussions have included ACT Government officials.

John James Village also quickly became a multi-award winning site, underlining the high level of commitment, professionalism and innovation shown by the many local partners who contributed pro bono or in-kind to the project:

Kingston architects DJAS won a prestigious Australian Institute of Architects Colorbond award for Steel Architecture.

• Deakin builders Project Coodination won the Master Builders Association ACT award for Excellence in Building – Special Purpose Dwelling and Adaptable Dwelling.

• Queanbeyan’s Moraschi Roofing won the 2016 National Metal Roofing Association and Cladding Association Premium Award for Specialist Works.

JJF Travelling Fellowship of Medical Oncology

The Foundation welcomes the recipient of a new Travelling Fellowship of Medical Oncology, Dr Andrew Soma, from the Solomon Islands’ National Referral Hospital, Honiara. Dr Soma met the Solomon’s High Commissioner in Australia, His Excellency Mr Collin Beck, to discuss the Foundation’s support.  The four week Fellowship, in mid 2017, gives Dr Soma the opportunity to see modern cancer treatment facilities and services in Canberra.  Dr Soma will soon be central to the establishment of the Solomon’s first oncology care clinic.

Thank You wall highlights community support

The ‘thank you’ wall at John James Village showcases the many local Canberra trades and businesses that supported construction of the Village with direct donations, in-kind and pro bono services. The wall, in the main administration building, is made up of timber ‘cells’ reflecting the interconnected nature of community.

Clinical Placements Program

Each year the John James Foundation hosts a group of final year medical students from James Cook University, Qld, as part of the Specialist Elective (Clinical Placements) Program.

The 10-week program exposes students to a broad range of medical specialities and environments.  Students have an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with Specialists working in both public and private settings.  Students spend time in private rooms, scrubbing-in to theatre, clinics, ward rounds and are even able to get behind the scenes in medical laboratories.

Previous participants say the program provides valuable insights, particularly into the realities of private practice and a broad range of medical specialities outside the public system – often for the first time.

Students who will participate in 2018 have now been selected. Information about clinical placement opportunities in 2019 will be available soon.