This is a story of connecting. Many would know that the community group We Are Hughes is the hat I wore for two years prior to putting myself forward as a candidate for Hughes. When I set up We Are Hughes there were many components to the venture. At its core was connections and listening. It was, and remains, very much a listening project.
The first connection was creating awareness of our electorate. We wanted people to know the uniqueness of our beautiful electorate.
Hughes stretches from Bundeena to Moorebank. We are a great big beautiful green electorate, with the longest coastline of any in Greater Sydney. Within our boundaries are the Royal national park, Heathcote National park (home to the newly documented healthy koala population) and Holsworthy Military reserve.
We then found out what people love about living here
The top three things are:
The natural environment
Access to the city and beaches,
a sense of community
One of the sections of we are Hughes is called ‘HUMANS OF HUGHES’. This is an area that focuses on our stories. I had this idea that if we knew each other’s hardships, joys and triumphs we could vote armed with knowledge of our fellow citizens in Hughes. My hope was we would vote not just on a few weeks of electoral slogans and hip pocket promises, but with a depth of understanding of each other’s priorities.
The following is the preamble to the Humans of Hughes section
“These stories are not political in nature, although the stories may well shape where you put your number 1 at the ballot box. After reading a story of how someone in your neighbourhood exists on Newstart allowance, you will be making a more informed decision. When you cast your vote you will know you are rubbing shoulders every day with people who will be directly affected by the outcomes of the votes you cast.
Either close to our hearts or a feel good fable, be assured these stories are unfolding around us. Through this sharing we become more connected Humans of Hughes. “
One story that gained a lot of attention was the value of respite though green amenity to those in abusive situations ( link in comments). This shone a light not only on hidden domestic violence, but why open accessible amenities are so important.
Now that I am standing as a candidate for Hughes I am hearing stories daily via email and in person. Obviously I can’t share personal stories, but they pull at heart strings.
On cost of living, which has turned into an election catch phrase, I’m hearing stories not of petrol (though no doubt that is having a serious impact) I’m hearing about a small rise in a pension that will in no way make up for increased cost in medication. I’ve heard the words ‘they’re stealing from Peter to pay Paul’ often.
I’ve heard many stories of neglect in nursing homes through lack of staff.
I hear too often about Centrelink issues. Good people stuck in a check box cycle. Another came through late yesterday, that, unless resolved, will have devastating impacts.
For me being in this position as a candidate is an absolute privledge. I like people, I always have, and that is where my bitter disappointment in politics comes from. The basis of representation is lost.
Sure, “ask me anything”, but more importantly “tell me your story.” It’s how a politician listens and acts that is important.
If you are here on my page for the first time, and you want to know what separates me from anyone else standing in this electorate, this is it.
I started from listening long before I stood to be a representative, not the other way around.
I walk among the people of Hughes, I don’t feel entitled to be here, I feel privileged.
I didn’t set out to build a marketing brand, I set out to build community.
That is who I am. Not slick. Not cashed up or propped up by billionaires , just me, supported by the very very good people around me.