I CANNOT REMEMBER when I first became aware of Sophie Scamps. I do remember that my friend Annabelle posted on our “Paddler’s” Facebook Group an invitation to meet Sophie at an afternoon tea at her home on 13 March.
After accepting her invitation, I sought more information, liked what I read, and noticed the merchandise on Sophie’s website. The swim cap jumped out at me because I swim three days a week in Zali territory at the Warringah Aquatic Centre.
Then my friend Harriet, who lives in Mona Vale, offered to pick up the cap so I didn’t have to drive from my home in Newport to Collaroy. That’s how I found out Harriet was volunteering for Sophie, and I saw her corflute outside her home when I collected the cap. Harriet is married to Tim, another one of my board paddling friends.
While paddling and chatting one Saturday morning I learned Tristan and Dee also had a Sophie corflute sign outside their house. Then over coffee after our session, Annabelle and Julia wore their Sophie t-shirts and baseball caps, and I discovered Felicity’s partner Simon was responsible for many of the corflutes displayed in our area.
This thing had momentum! I discovered many more friends/acquaintances supported the campaign – even Tom Carroll and Lisa Forrest were on board!
The next week I dropped into the Collaroy office on my way home from swim training to buy a cap for Alicia to thank her for writing our Wednesday swim programmes. I had no idea if Alicia would mind my political gift, but she wore it every session afterwards.
I visited Sophie’s office the next week to buy more caps and recognised Seb. Seb had swum with our squad in the past but I hadn’t seen him in a while. He told me he took long-service leave from his teaching job to volunteer for Sophie.
Wow! That impressed me.
Over the next few weeks, I gave caps to Wendy, Gem, Melanie and Robyn. My friend Pat gave me money to buy five more so he could give them to family and friends. No one questioned our motives; they took the caps and said later they’d read up on Sophie and liked what they read.
Becoming a volunteer
On 12 March, Annabelle announced that Sophie had COVID, so the afternoon tea was postponed until 10 April. I was going to be in Queensland on 10 April. I felt I needed to meet Sophie before I could wholeheartedly campaign for her, so I attended a “Meet the candidate” event at The Forest Hotel on Wednesday, 23 March.
The interview with author Michael Rowbotham was interesting and informative, then Sophie handled all the questions from the audience like she had been doing this for decades. But she didn’t sound like a politician.
How refreshing! I came away excited and enthusiastic.
So, I dropped into the campaign office to tell Seb I would like to organise a sign for the front of my house. I was now an official volunteer.
Seb gave me a sky blue (not teal!) Sophie Scamps t-shirt. I downloaded the app that kept all the volunteers informed about events and met for my first banner wave at Rukus Café in Newport the next Tuesday at 7am. There I was, holding a giant Sophie sign on the side of Barrenjoey Road. I’d never done anything like this before. It was fun, and I enjoyed meeting the other volunteers over coffee afterwards.
I was all in!
Paul from the “A-Team” erected my corflute, and I walked around Newport’s “golden triangle” in my Sophie t-shirt to do a letter box drop and even convinced someone to volunteer during the process. I then took off to Queensland for a couple of weeks.
Upon my return, I saw that someone had attacked Sophie’s face with a Sharpie pen. Not to worry, I reported the incident via the app and Paul quickly organised a replacement.
I attended a few banner waves on Pittwater Road, Mona Vale – even one in the rain. It was so tempting to sleep in instead, but one of the Volunteer Managers (Leonie) messaged us early to say she had plenty of clear rain ponchos, so I didn’t have an excuse.
After one of the banner waves, Leonie convinced me to participate in a doorknock with about twenty other volunteers at Bayview the next day. I teamed up with Lindy because we had worked together almost 30 years ago at Better Homes and Gardens, and it was nice to be with a familiar face.
We met residents who wanted to talk about how great they thought Sophie was, but another resident told us, “The Independents are ruining the country, and if you watched Sky News, you would know this.” Then a lady told us that climate change was a good thing: “We will have more food if the planet warms another two degrees.”
Good grief! What a roller-coaster ride.
Afterwards, we met with the other door knockers for a quick drink and shared our stories.
A few weeks later, I did another doorknock in Bilgola Plateau. I’m still a bit amazed that I took part in two door knocks. I never thought I would participate in something that can be so daunting. After all, who knocks on a door in 2022 without sending a text first?
I was astonished by the number of people who mentioned their significant concerns were potholes in the road, trailers parked on the street, or wanted to know if Sophie supported dog walking on our beaches. Perhaps our education system needs a bit of work? I live in a very privileged area if this is all they can come up with when we ask what they would like their Federal MP to address in Parliament.
Genuine concerns for others though were climate change, our treatment of refugees, aged care and the healthcare system. By the way, we had an app to record the concerns. How professional!
I did my best on social media to counteract the Liberal’s scare mongering. I posted photos of me in Sophie gear and my two defaced Sophie corflutes, and shared articles by Ross Gittins and Peter Hartcher that confirmed there was no need to fear the Independents and a possible “hung parliament”. I also shared a few satirical “Honest Government Ads” from Juice Media for a laugh. More Independents in Parliament would be terrific.
As election day approached, we needed to step up
I went to the office again to buy a Sophie bucket hat, and Maz at Avalon Natural Beauty happily gave me “#SophieNails”.
On 24 April, Melanie and I attended an entertaining and sold-out Ocean Film Festival Fundraiser at the Avalon Cinema. Sophie was treated like a celebrity in the foyer afterwards.
However, the campaign’s most exciting and fun event was “Election Beats” on 1 May. It was a concert in Avalon with Angus & Julia Stone, Lime Cordiale and Sons of the East. I knew I didn’t fit the intended demographic, but I volunteered as a marshal so I felt less guilty about attending.
I rocked up to a pizza night at Avalon Bowling Club one Friday night to meet with fellow volunteers, and the Park House, Mona Vale, for drinks and dinner a few weeks later on another Friday night. I went alone without hesitation – as long as you showed up in a Sophie t-shirt, you instantly had friends. Strangers also chatted at the bar and told me they intended to vote for her.
This positive feedback encouraged me to place a third TAB bet on the Independent for Mackellar!
In early May, I discovered that Kris, another swim pal, also lives in Mackellar. I think we need a “Mackellar Aquatic Centre”, but I digress! I kicked myself for not finding out sooner, as I was out of caps. However, thankfully Pat had a spare. By this stage, swimmers in other lanes noticed the number of Sophie sky blue caps and made comments. Hopefully, they lived in Mackellar too.
That was when I knew we had this
The app kept reminding us to volunteer for pre-polling booths and book in for a shift on election day. I had other commitments on election day, so I did one pre-polling shift on Saturday, 14 May. The Sophie volunteers easily outnumbered the other parties’ volunteers. The vibe was positive, and it felt like it was election day with so many people pre-polling.
When my shift was over, I swapped my Sophie t-shirt for a plain one and went to vote. However, the sitting MP Jason Falinski recognised me and took his how-to-vote card out of my hand! Maybe my social media posts with all the Sophie hashtags had been working.
On the morning of 21 May, I picked up my outfit for Newport Surf Club’s Annual Awards evening from my local dry-cleaner. Of course, I was wearing my Sophie t-shirt, and the dry-cleaner wished me good luck as I turned to leave. It took me a moment to realise she meant good luck to Sophie. I turned back and asked if she had met Sophie, and she said, “Yes, last Wednesday,” and she intended to vote for her.
That was when I knew we had this! A small business owner in my area was on board.
After all this, the most emotional and fulfilling part of being involved came via Facebook Messenger at 18.14 on 21 May. It was Robyn.
“Very best of luck tonight. I want you to know you were the change-maker in my voting decision. You’ve done well. xxx.”
I received confirmation of Sophie’s win during the annual awards intermission. Yee-hah! When the event was over, I Ubered to Dee Why RSL, but the party was wrapping up when I got there. Two other friends, Tina and Jean, were downstairs in another bar, so I celebrated with them and a few other volunteers. I got home at 1:30am.
It started with a swim cap!
Feature Image: Alicia, Jan, Pat and Kris at the Warringah Aquatic Centre – #MackellarVotes (Photo: Jan Proudfoot)
No Fibs #MackellarVotes coverage
- 1. #transitzone interview with Sophie Scamps before she decided to stand.
- 2. Sophie Scamps’ campaign launch speech, December 2021
- 3. Twitter’s report on Sophie Scamps’ launch.
- 4. #transitzone interview with Sophie Scamps’ wing woman, Louise Hislop.
- 5. Women of #MackellarVotes rose: Voices of Mackellar cofounder Leonie Scarlett on the miracle win
- 6. Elation and relief after volunteering for Sophie Scamps at #MackellarVotes: Paul Boland’s story
- 7. Julie Donald’s story on that ear shattering moment on election night when #MackellarVotes made history
- 8. Michael Osbourne’s story: Regret for voting for Morrison and redemption by voting for Sophie Scamps #MackellarVotes
- 9. From GetUp!, Lock the Gate and Stop Adani to volunteering for #MackellarVotes: Joy Nason’s story
- 10. Alice Thompson’s #IndependentsDay campaign in 2019