An unexpected year: the National Co-convenors

2020 has not been quite the year that any of us were expecting. But the need for our movement’s strong voice has never been more important.

By Catherine Garner and Willisa Hogarth

Certainly, 2020 has not been quite the year that any of us were expecting. Our nation was plunged into some dark places, starting from a much earlier start to the fire season than ever before to the impacts of the global pandemic still holding on in Melbourne. The need for our movement’s strong voice has never been more important. With the federal government’s worrying trend of putting corporations and big polluters’ wants and needs above our community, our membership has put so much energy into standing up for what matters.

Many member bodies have created amazing momentum through their election campaigns at both local and state/territory levels of government. Campaigning with integrity for a cleaner energy system, stronger environmental protection laws, and fairer financial recovery measures has resonated with our base and the wider community. As our Campaign Management Team and Leader’s Office begin preparations to leverage this momentum to create the strongest federal campaign yet, we recognise the enormous contribution our volunteers from around the country have made that has gotten us to this position.

Speaking of Leader’s Office, it’s so important to recognise the smooth transition from Richard to Adam at the helm of Party Room. This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work from both teams, and we thank all those involved. Richard served as party leader for five years, and we are so grateful for the poise and passion he brought to the Senate. We wish him well as he steps out of the harsh spotlight of politics, and hope he and his family are enjoying their time together!

The departure of Richard has also brought us a new Victorian senator in Lidia Thorpe. Lydia brings new dynamic energy to Party Room and we know she is going to do amazing things in the federal space.

With the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to work together with our National Council in person has been all but eliminated. Regardless, Council has pushed through these challenges to pass some difficult budgeting, staffing, and campaign decisions. Not only have we conducted meetings online, but also pulled off an entire conference. We’ve learned a lot about this process, not least that online decisions often require more time. As an organisation, it has been energising to see the willingness to learn new skills and new technology in order to make the best of the opportunities the pandemic has given us.

Regardless of these challenges we have achieved so much, including allocating a dedicated position on the National Council for the First Nations Network, updated multiple policies in our August special national conference, began a governance review, and are making plans for an exciting online conference in November. Online discussions allow for a much wider volume of our members to participate in workshops and discussions, and we hope that you’ll engage in this event with us.

Our national office bearer group has been outstanding this year as well. It’s been a privilege to work with such a talented, dedicated, and supportive group of women. Thank you for all your hard work in this difficult year.

And of course, none of 2020 would be possible without our National Office staff. Your dedication to always go above and beyond for our party, our members, and our movement never fails to impress us. Thank you to Brett and all the staff for their hard work.

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