What did you do straight after high school?
After finishing year 12 at Warracknabeal, I worked for a year at the local Catholic Primary School as an education support worker. Then I went to Federation University in Ballarat to study education. I got through most of that course, before I became involved in politics. Joining the Liberal Party in 2018, I campaigned for the Party in that year’s election. The following year, I was the Party’s candidate for the seat of Ballarat. Running for the seat took about half a year of campaigning in the area. Since then, I have worked in an office as an electorate officer for a Member of Parliament.
What was running for governement like?
Running for the seat was the experience of a lifetime. I got to advocate for a community that I feel really strongly for. I had lived in Ballarat for about four years, so I became really close to Ballarat and the surrounding communities through my involvement with local football and other community organisations. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot.
Running for Government is not something you can learn how to do at school. Many people go to uni to study political science or international relations, which gives you a great background in politics. But I, on the other hand, studied to be a teacher. So I came from a completely different angle. It did mean that I could appreciate going to school in rural Australia and appreciate the challenges that existed there. I was able to add my own experience to those conversations. A lot of that came from the Rural Youth Ambassadors Program, and our meetings with community and education leaders. That really added a lot to my personal knowledge.
I know I’m always going to have a passion and appreciation for education, and the needs of rural education. I’m always keeping an eye on it and take an interest in outcomes for regional schools.
What is being an Electoral Officer like day-to-day?
I work for a member of the shadow cabinet in the Victorian Parliament, but it’s not every day out campaigning with the MP. A lot of my role is office duty. I do data analysis, media consultations, a lot of constituency work, and helping people navigate the Government system. Not everyone understands how Government actually operates, so I really enjoy being able to put these skills to use, as well as my communication skills.
I love the excitement in my current role because not every day is the same. One day I was working in an office in Maryborough, the second day I was in Melbourne, and the third day I was in the middle of a potato farm. You get all different kinds of days and experiences.
What would you say to anyone wanting to get into politics?
People get into politics from a range of different backgrounds. Not everyone does a degree in political science or international relations. Many people get into it because they join a political party, or very often because they have an interest that they are really passionate about. Community leaders often get involved in politics because they have had that experience advocating for their community group, and it leads on from there. I know examples of gym owners who have had an eye on politics because they need to advocate for gyms to be open during lockdown. Another example is farmers who have had to get involved in politics to protect agricultural land from proposals that would damage it.
So with politics, you really can come at it from any angle. Ultimately, you must have a passion for something and be ready to advocate for the community.