When candidate Linda Seymour first launched her campaign, a group of women with extraordinary histories came together and decided they wanted to take a whole different approach to campaigning, and the ‘Purple Koala’ team was born.
Semi-retired teacher Lynne Edwards explained, “We were gifted the idea by Dennis Ginnivan from Helen Haine’s electorate of Indi where they use an orange cockatoo, and their team has continued to support us.
“We decided to focus on the koala as a symbol for Linda’s campaign given the newly discovered healthy population in Heathcote National Park. We felt it would show how proud we are of the citizen scientists who were working so hard to document this population, how important nature is to us and the people of Hughes and what a beautiful place Hughes is to live.”
Helma Mulhall has made many new friends through her involvement. “I joined Linda’s campaign after meeting her when the community came together to help save my home in Jannali from being turned into a carpark”, she said. “I never thought I would be into politics or that it would be so enjoyable. We get together, laugh, and talk about all the things that are important to us as we make the koalas”.
Liz Aitken, another retired teacher in the group has created purple koala earrings and keyrings that volunteers wear proudly as they talk with prospective voters. She has also written songs that volunteers have sung at some of Linda’s events.
Wilma Stevens, who has a lifelong career in diversity and inclusion has also had a great time, “Linda and I met as we are both members of the community group ‘We Are Hughes’. I have arranged many meetings for Linda with First Nations, disability and multicultural communities and groups,” Ms Stevens says. “Linda also supported me to run our ‘Regeneration’ event that put discussions about diversity and inclusion at its centre. Being part of Linda’s campaign has been so positive for me.”
The team are now turning to placing their purple koalas around the electorate of Hughes to remind people about Linda’s commitment to the environment. Some are attached to corflutes in people’s yards, some on corflutes on fences or tied carefully to trees in public areas. As team member Del Merrett stated, ‘I don’t really think anyone ever changed their votes based on how many posters of someone they see on the side of a road, but maybe if they see a purple koala they might smile and think that is a positive way to spread our message”.
The team welcomed anyone to join them and are also happy to share their purple koalas with anyone who wants to participate and show that they too care about the environment of Hughes.