A grassroots voice for Green politics
Representation, activism and working together to build our movement.
Activism is in my blood.
Born into a poor family in the Collingwood housing commission flats, I was raised to advocate for myself and those around me. My grandmother was one of the founders of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.
After surviving domestic violence, I raised three kids as a single mum and went on to university to study policy. This equipped me to advocate for women’s rights, public health, environmental protection, public housing and child protection. I’ve met hardship head-on, which enables me to meet my constituents at eye level and not from a position of power looking down.
Fighting for environmental and social justice is at the heart of who I am, and why I proudly call the Greens home. In 2017, I was the first Aboriginal woman elected to Victorian parliament. As the Victorian Greens MP for Northcote, I held several portfolios including Aboriginal Affairs, mental health, consumer affairs and sport.
I used this opportunity to:
- facilitate the installation of more tram ‘super stops’ to assist people with disabilities
- establish a board of representatives from school councils to improve facilities and infrastructure
- advocate for native forest protection
- negotiate safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ communities and
- push for renters’ rights and challenge public housing sell offs
- negotiate and strengthen the Treaty legislation
The above outcomes were negotiated on the picket line, within a Greens party room and alongside other major parties. I can hit the ground running because I know how bills are written and legislation passed. This practical knowledge is informed by what Victorians have taught me, because I feel and think as much as you. I care about many of the things you care about, and your voice should have access to a platform in Canberra.
I can get the job done, as I have excellent working relationships with our federal Greens’ parliamentary team and constructive working relationships with several other federal MPs.
As Greens, we believe that our federal parliament should reflect the strengths and diversity of our society. We need politicians who have experienced poverty and adversity. Representatives whose voices draw from the rich tapestry of knowledge in our culturally diverse communities. Climate change, growing inequality and justice for First Nations all require urgent action. How we address these issues now will define us as a nation for generations to come.
The Greens are the only major party without a federal Aboriginal MP. This needs to change. My Aboriginal brothers and sisters need a voice from the First Nations in Canberra, but I want to stress upfront that if elected, I will be a Senator for all Victorians.
Australia needs to mature as a nation, to find itself, to reconcile its past in order to develop an inclusive national identity. To do this we need to bring white, black and multicultural Australia together to create a country we can all be proud of. Only from this position of healing and self-assuredness can we face our future challenges together.
I’m a proven national media performer, sought-after public speaker and commentator. In this capacity, I’ve answered tough questions on national media and can be trusted to represent the Greens calmly and professionally.
My experience in Aboriginal health and local government allows me to be confident that as a candidate, I can bring people together. I’m a candidate who can mobilise disillusioned voters and connect with non-traditional Greens audiences. No one will be left behind, as we make the urgent transition to a low pollution economy.
My record speaks for itself.
I’ve been an advisor to:
- Our Watch, national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia
- Environment Victoria, an independent and not-for-profit group campaigning for a safe climate, healthy rivers and sustainable living
- The Municipal Association of Victorian, responsible for local governments Aboriginal Employment Project working with 79 Victorian councils
- The East Gippsland Shire Council, regarding community and stakeholder engagement
- Australian Conservation Foundation – Protecting climate and nature through First Law
On the board of:
- The Smith Family National Advisory Board
- First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance (inaugural member)
- Bairnsdale Regional Health Board
- First Nations Sports Foundation (founding member)
- Chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee (2014 - present)
- Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group (honorary CEO)
- Australian Greens’ Blak Greens (founding member)
- Established the Djab Wurrung campaign to protect sacred birthing trees on the Western Highway
- I’ve sat in front of bulldozers in East Gippsland, protesting the Eastern gas pipeline to save the Nowa Nowa Gorge
- Organised Invasion Day rallies, involving 100 000+ people
- Established an organisation that supports grandmothers to prevent Aboriginal children being removed from the community
- Regular speaker at rallies protesting against refugee and asylum speaker detention
- Currently the Indigenous Program Lead for Amnesty International (on leave)
- Negotiator at last year’s COP 25 climate change treaty negotiations in Madrid.
- MLA for the Greens
- Founding director for the Clan Corporation, a small business setting up renewable energy systems in regional communities
- CEO of the Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group
- Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership Award (2008)
Finally, I want to congratulate Richard Di Natale for his fearless and intelligent contribution to federal politics and the Australian Greens. Like many of you, I am excited and energised by the way Adam Bandt has seized the agenda and look forward to advocating for a Green New Deal.