Petersen was born in 1977 to parents of South African lineage in Sydney, She was raised in Woy Woy on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Also grew up with her brother Dale Petersen. Janice lives in Sydney with her partner Julian Hamilton of electronic band The Presets. The couple have two daughters, born in 2010 and 2013 respectively. 
A sports enthusiast, she participated in the high jump, 100 metre and 200 metre sprints, and netball. She is an avid photographer and has had her photographs published for the 2000 Summer Olympics and street life around Sydney.
Petersen went to work at SBS in 2000 as a freelance staff person and soon was operating the autocue and writing obscure freelance stories, then moved over to ABC in Adelaide, South Australia as a newsreader after landing a bi-media cadetship. Petersen returned to SBS in 2006 as a sports presenter.
- "SBS newsreader Janice Petersen pregnant with second child". 2013-02-13. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
- Janice Petersen profile (accessed 23 September 2014) - Special Broadcasting Service's World News Australia
- SBS newsreader among Archibald finalists, 17 March 2010 (accessed 29 November 2010)
- "Janice is a good sport". The Advertiser. 28 August 2006.
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