Remembering our roots: Jordon Steele-John

I’m so immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together and I am so excited to see what else we can achieve over the next six years.

By Senator Jordon Steele-John

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I was catapulted into this role! In this time we’ve smashed a huge federal election and grown our movement across WA. I’m so immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together and I am so excited to see what else we can achieve over the next six years.

This time last year the campaign was already in full swing, and by the start of this year we had begun door-knocking and phone-banking on a scale never before seen in WA! By the time election day came around on 18 May we had knocked on almost 60,000 doors, made more than 27,500 phone calls, had more than 2,000 volunteers take part in our movement and achieved a swing of more than 2 per cent! We can all be really proud of what we’ve achieved together for our movement in WA. 

Since this time last year we’ve also had a MASSIVE win for the disability community in securing a Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of disabled people in institutional and residential settings. Our movement and the disability community have been fighting for this for so long and we couldn’t have gotten there without their incredible activism, along with many years of advocacy from our own Rachel Siewert before me as well. This is only the beginning of the journey towards justice for disabled people and I’m determined to defend its integrity and ensure that it is what the community needs it to be, not what the bureaucrats want it to be. I’ll keep you updated. 

We’ve also been campaigning really hard alongside survivors of the Thalidomide disaster to get them some long-overdue recognition and compensation from the government. This small group of survivors are some of the bravest and toughest campaigners I have ever met. We haven’t quite got there yet but we’re making some progress, and I’m really hopeful we can get the government over the line soon! 

For more information on this campaign please click here.

In September last year, and again in March this year, we witnessed the birth and growth of the School Strike 4 Climate Action movement which was started by 16 year old neurodivergent Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg. Across the world young people are leading the fight for climate justice and our movement has been right there in the thick of it.

That first strike in Canberra included a sit-in in the Great Hall of Parliament House where hundreds of young people sang protest songs and demanded climate action – it was an honour to sit with them right to the end as police escorted every last young protester from the building. In March, a similar sit in was staged right across Australia outside the offices of government MPs – I joined thousands as we marched on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in the Perth CBD. Since then the School Strike movement has grown exponentially, with the September 20 strike being one of the largest this country has ever seen. I’m so excited to continue to work with these incredible young leaders and amplify their demands in parliament. 

Since getting back into the swing of parliament I’ve taken on some new portfolio responsibilities, adding Trade and Defence and Veteran’s Affairs, which we promptly renamed Peace, Disarmament and Veteran’s Affairs, to Disability Rights and Services, and Youth Affairs. 

I am really excited to get stuck into Peace and Disarmament as there is just so much that needs to be done in this space. Not only is the name change a shout out to one of the Four Pillars (Peace and Non-violence) of our party, but also a recognition of all the incredible activism throughout the 1970s and 1980s that ultimately led to the election of the first Greens Senator, Jo Vallentine. We are a party founded on the peace movement and I couldn’t be prouder to carry on that tradition!

As we continue our work in the 46th Parliament – noting that this election has changed the make-up of the Senate – it is important for us all to remember, as a movement, that we have our roots in activism, protest and non-violent direct action. Living in the time that we do, with the leaders we currently have in government, it has never been more important that we remember those roots and do all that we can to support and lead the mass movements springing up in our local communities, across the country and around the world demanding a better future for all of us. Our movement is growing and people are looking to us to show leadership in the face of the climate crisis. This is our most important challenge over the next few years. 

Whoever you are and wherever you live, thank you for all the support you’ve given this past year; you make our movement the people-powered force for change that it is!

Yours in hope,