Joanne Matthews, the 225th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has had a wonderfully diverse and rich career journey.

To begin with, Jo worked as a high school teacher. She enjoyed the job, but never saw it as something she would do for the long-term.

So Jo, who had been active in the Australian Labor Party, moved into politics, where she served as a councillor, mayor, state government policy adviser and communications executive.

Unfortunately, Jo’s children suffered health issues, which ultimately led her to quit politics and move into health advocacy work

Through bitter experience, Jo discovered a thing called ‘antimicrobial resistance’, which is when certain bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. One of her daughters was given a long course of antibiotics that actually made her condition worse, because it gave harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria the chance to multiply. Her condition improved only when another doctor, who was also a naturopath, prescribed a herbal treatment.

Jo went on to found the Antimicrobial Resistance Alliance, which advocates for the responsible use of antibiotics and the use of better, alternative treatments when they exist.

As Jo explained, the oversubscribing of antibiotics actually worsens climate change, because it degrades the microbes in our soil, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gas that gets sucked out of the atmosphere.

Lunch with Jo was an absolute pleasure. I found it so interesting to talk about Jo’s work in politics and health advocacy. And I appreciated her dry sense of humour and her straight-shooting personality.