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Billy Gorter: A Visionary Leader Making a Difference in Cambodia

by Surya Narayan
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Billy Gorter is a visionary leader who has dedicated his life to social justice, conservation, and human rights. With a career spanning over 16 years in Cambodia, Billy has made a significant impact in the field of international development, designing and delivering powerful social justice initiatives that have supported thousands of individuals and families.

Billy’s journey in Cambodia began in 2003 when he first visited the country. Deeply moved by the resilience and warmth of the Cambodian people, he decided to return, study, and make a difference. In 2006 he relocated to Siem Reap and began working for a charity. In 2007, he founded This Life Cambodia, an Australian non-profit, non-governement organisation delivering all its programs directly in Cambodia. This Life works with vulnerable children, women, families, and communities to build a brighter future.

The origin of This Life Logo

Under Billy’s leadership, This Life in Cambodia has grown from a small operation in his lounge to a staff of 80 based in Siem Reap delivering 13 high-impact programs covering Children and Families, Communities and Impact, Learning and Effectiveness. This Life’s excellence has been recognised by several prestigious awards, including the Stars Impact Award and the Global Grassroots Justice Prize. 

As Executive Director of This Life, Billy is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organisation and ensuring that its programs have a positive impact on the lives of Cambodians. He is a highly consultative leader who understands and works within cultural mores to achieve optimal strategic and operational objectives. He has cultivated productive ongoing relationships with Cambodian government ministries and overseen the accreditation of This Life in Australia as a Registered Charitable Institution.

Billy’s leadership style is characterised by creativity, innovation, and collaboration. He has driven campaigns to end domestic violence and strengthen families, which have reached more than 4 million Cambodians and received wide local and international media attention. 

Just last year, This Life beat out the likes of Netflix, Visa, Disney, Twitter and The Oscars to take out the converted global prize of Best Call to Action Campaign. His ‘Virtual Reality’ campaign to end violence against women, filmed in his own house during lockdowns in Cambodia, reached more than 1 in 4 Cambodians. The powerful message of ‘Reach Out, Check In, Act – to make sure she is okay’, became a national discussion. 

It’s no wonder why This Life picked up a further nine international awards in just 2022 alone.

Surya Narayan, Founder of The Better Cambodia with Billy Gorter

In addition to his work with This Life, Billy has also contributed to the development of the international development sector in Cambodia. He led the organisation in its successful application for full membership to the Australian Council for International Development, ensuring that This Life adheres to good standards for program effectiveness, fundraising, governance, and financial reporting. 

He is passionate about working with local communities and has become a sought-after mentor to other NGOs, an international awards judge, and an in-demand international speaker.

In addition to his personal pursuits, Billy is also a member of the Board of Directors at Angkor Hospital for Children. In March 2023, he was appointed as a member of the Executive Committee of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC).

The Executive Committee acts as the Board of Directors of CCC. It has as a main task to guide and advise the Executive Director on policy developments which are desired by the CCC Member Organisations. This role helps to ensure that the CCC remains accountable to its members and continues to deliver on its mission to support the development of Cambodia.

This Life team with former ambassador of Australia

Well known across Cambodia for his passion and drive, Billy Gorter is a leader who has made a significant impact in Cambodia and beyond. His passion for social justice, conservation, and human rights has inspired many, and his visionary leadership has created a brighter future for vulnerable children, women, families, and communities across Cambodia.

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