Advice for new freelancers: look to young people

It’s the niblings that have really made it — they’re my non-binary nieces, nephews, and children of my siblings. The joy, the optimism, the hope that something will finally happen. For the past decade, for most of their teenage years, all they’ve known is “no,” it can’t be, it won’t happen, and we don’t believe you.

Watching the votes roll in on Saturday night, a few observations: Helen Haines, independent for Indi, increased her margin by 8.6%. Zali Steggall in Warringah has increased her margin and won in all of her booths, Rebekha Sharkie in the Adelaide Hills is at 63%, and Andrew Wilkie in Hobart now has a whopping 70% preferred winning margin.

Independent candidate for Warringah Zali Steggall.Credit:Louise Kennerley

Something works. And it’s not just in their constituents, voters are paying attention to the work of these independents in federal parliament, especially their leadership on gaming, elder care, climate and integrity. They stand out because they have all introduced relevant legislation in parliament, giving a voice to some of the key issues facing our young people.

My phone buzzed Sunday morning with expressions of joy from this demographic. They were the ones who first pushed me to run for politics and who stayed with me throughout the journey. They want something better for their country. I agree with them, they deserve better and I hope the changes promised by Anthony Albanese in his acceptance speech on Saturday night will materialize.

My professional background is in community development, particularly in the regions. This involves supporting leaders, building capacity within communities, helping with networking and accessing resources, both money and skills. I learned that leadership is essential and must be supported by strategy, goodwill and enthusiasm.

There must be plans for the future, including a realistic strategic approach to managing the complexities of next steps and answering key questions. What do we do next? How do we continue to support our leaders? How do we continue to build the capacity of our communities to solve problems, be inclusive and help newcomers share a sense of belonging? What do we do when things go wrong, key players get sick, or there are big differences in views and values?

Over the next few months, community freelancers will be asking these questions as they undertake their reviews and will assess and document what worked and didn’t work. Through surveys, focus groups and discussions, they will begin to plan the next steps. They will examine where the attacks gained momentum, what could have been done differently and better and where to go next, including getting involved in state elections in Victoria in November and NSW in March next year , or the next round of local elections.

We learned at Indi that we must “be the change” we want to see, change based on the community’s understanding that democracy is not a spectator sport. A lot of people have plunged into democracy and been incredibly innovative and creative as they shaped the most impressive of community campaigns.

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