Each quarter we ask some of our Pathways to Politics Program for Women alumni a few questions about what they're doing now, what they believe needs to change for more women to enter politics and what advice they have for fellow alumni.
What are you doing currently? I am the inaugural director of the Wattle Fellowship at the University of Melbourne. It’s a leadership development opportunity for students focused on sustainability outcomes. Other hats I wear include being a podcaster and board member of Climate Action Network Australia.
What skills or tips do you have to share with your fellow alumni? This will sound both like a cliche and very basic, but it’s served me well. You never know how or why the person you’re meeting with might change your life. It could be because they introduce you to someone else who’s professionally useful, they become a future collaborator or just someone that you’ll count as a friend. For me, this is a reminder to not make assumptions about other people just in the moment in terms of how they could “benefit you” but look to build a long-term relationship, which doesn’t necessarily imply or necessitate immediate depth.
What do you think needs to be disrupted to help female politicians thrive? Public perception about the role of women in society, in general, not just limited to the realm of politics. Unfortunately, we’re conditioned from a very young age what women and girls are “capable” or “deserving” of in society. Last year, Plan International Australia produced a report that looked at what the world would be like if we centred the world of women. It speaks to the need for our formal and informal education systems needing to be broadened.
What leader/s do you most admire and why? We’ve seen a lot of individuals take on leadership roles in public during the pandemic. What stood out to me the most was the role and importance of community leadership though, through the establishment of mutual aid and other support networks that helped people get by. I really value the leadership that people take on that isn’t in the limelight or on a public stage, but within their own backyards.
What are you reading right now? I set myself an abstract lockdown goal of reading through all issues of the Quarterly Essays. It’s been interesting to read essays about “current affairs” as if they were history or see how issues have evolved or stayed the same. I just finished a 2010 essay about the Australia-China-US relationship and the author certainly didn’t foresee the current geopolitical tensions. The last book that I finished was Blockchain Chicken Farm by Xiaowei Wang. I kept forgetting that it’s a work of non-fiction looking at technology in rural China rather than science fiction. I’d highly recommend it as a mind-altering read.
What are you doing currently? Currently, I work for a First Nations not-for-profit called CareerTrackers, where I lead strategic projects that support the career development of over 850 tertiary-educated First Nations Professionals. However, I also am an at-home dancer, poet, storyteller, environmental justice advocate and proud aunty of 6.
What are your political aspirations?
I plan to be a Federal Senator. I am from Queensland, where we have no state senate. I choose the Federal Senate because the issues I care about are focused on there.
What skills or tips do you have to share with your fellow alumni?
Be bold and get very comfortable with self-promotion. Confidence can be humble and appropriate in many conversations, especially when asking people to vote for you.
Know your limits and your non-negotiables. Tell your team when and when they can’t contact you, plan family time, plan your exercise. Plan whatever you need to be your best self, and don’t let others disrespect that. People will always push the limits if you don’t enforce them. They’re called ‘limits’ for a reason!
Treat every conversation as a way to learn more about your fellow human, take things lightly (where possible) and think bigger picture.
What do you think needs to be disrupted to help female politicians thrive? When you proactively keep a group out of society (like what was done with women), you (the government) must actively bring that group back in if you want to achieve any type of equality. So whether it’s quotas or a different kind of process, I would advocate for anything that brings women in. I don’t believe the pie needs to be one size; I think that’s a lie politician have told Australian’s for years. For example, the incorrect rhetoric of ‘If you want renewables you’re going to destroy coal miners jobs’. These binaries only exist to have us keeping small. I believe our parliament can change dramatically and for the better. I think all politicals parties need to put serious targets around diverse representation, not just women. We won’t see any chance until all parties get serious. I think other little things would help, making childcare free for all people, not just female politicians. And just remove all the nonsense parliamentary procedures that still exist in our parliaments today that served the old white men of years past but don’t reflect the Australia we are today.
What leader/s do you most admire and why? I admire my fellow First Nations people, who exist in our communities and do the work that governments should do. The leaders who I admire are those who don’t let binaries, boundaries, limits stop them. The following leaders stand out for me; Gillian Triggs, the former Human Rights Commissioner; Leah Armstrong, the Managing Director of First Australians Capital and Richard Di Natale, Former Leader of the Australian Greens. These people all have grit and vision and lead their teams or communities with people, compassion and purpose at the heart of their decision making.
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading “You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World” By Clare Wright - it’s a must-read for all Australians!
To find out more about the relevant state-based program please follow the links below:
Queensland Program (QUT)
NSW Program (UNSW)
Victorian Program (UoM)