WE ARE HUGHES volunteers are bringing their expertise to the table to rally behind their community endorsed independent candidate for Hughes Linda Seymour. One campaign volunteer Wilma Stevens is utilising her background in diversity and inclusion to support Linda in meeting with diverse groups to find out how she can best represent them.
Ms Stevens, now retired, has worked as a Diversity and Inclusion Manager in organisations including the Commonwealth Bank, IBM, KBMG and DLA Piper, as well as the Australian Network on Disability and Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace. She is determined to continue her work in the field by now assisting Ms Seymour throughout her campaign.
“That has been my passion, representing and ensuring that everybody gets, well as they say in Australia, ‘a fair go’. To ensure that it is a level playing field so that everybody has a chance to maximise their career and potential.”
Giving the people a voice
Ms Stevens recognises that individuals in these diverse communities are more often than not left without a voice. She highlights a need for Australia’s leaders to not only listen, but to act.
“A lot of communities don’t have the opportunity to voice their concerns, or if they do it is just put into the backlot.
“It is great to do announcements but you have got to follow through with action. And I think that is where politicians have to be much more accountable,” she says.
Ms Stevens has picked up an active role in Ms Seymour’s campaign, helping her achieve this current lack of accountability by connecting her with diverse communities within their electorate of Hughes.
“I have introduced Linda to the Sutherland Shire Reconciliation Group, the ex-CEO of the Australian Network on Disability and I have arranged some meetings with the multicultural communities,” Ms Stevens says.
Listening to lived experience
Ms Seymour places a great importance on these introductions, seeing inclusivity as a necessary factor in representing a community.
“People with real lived experience are who we want to talk to,” Ms Seymour says.
She says that listening to lived experience at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in early 2020 is what pushed her to start having conversations with her community, and eventually to found We Are Hughes.
“When you hear people’s lived experience, which is what happened down at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, some of those conversations were quite confronting and you had to listen to it and you had to take it in… it was really the start of it for me because I thought that is a no brainer, you have to listen to lived experience.”
Shifting the perspective
Ms Stevens says she sees a lot of people backing away from politics, but that events like the We Are Hughes ‘Politics Has Gone to The Dogs’ meetings can help end this mentality.
“I think a lot of people say I don’t want to get involved in politics… I think it is more about saying ‘what can I do for the community’ or ‘who can represent you best and who can represent your values in the community’ and not so much ‘who do you support from a political perspective’,” she says.
Ms Stevens says she will be voting for Ms Seymour to be her next local MP at the upcoming federal election.
“I think an independent is important to keep the two main parties honest as much as you can do. Linda will represent the community, whereas I think Labor and Liberal will just represent their parties,” she says.
“Linda will listen to diverse groups of the community. She has listened to First Nations, she has listened to people with disabilities, she is going to be meeting with multicultural groups, and multicultural groups with disabilities.
“Linda will represent the community.”
Featured photo: Campaign volunteer Wilma Stevens. (Photo – Daisy Winney)