Leonie Scarlett

Leonie Scarlett

Leonie Scarlett, photographer. Established the Photolibrary Ruralphotos in 1998. Co-Founder of Voices of Mackellar 2020. Co-volunteer manager for Sophie Scamps Independent for Mackellar campaign. Leonie has a true love for people and community. She lives with her husband and three daughters, two dachshunds, five chickens and 40,000 bees in Mona Vale on Sydneys Northern Beaches.
Leonie Scarlett

Margo’s note: I met Leonie Scarlett and Rebecca Clarke, two co-founders of Voices of Mackellar, at the Canberra #march4justice on 15 March, 2001. In 2019 No Fibs covered the #IndependentsDay campaign of Alice Thompson in Mackellar and her efforts helped set the stage for Dr Sophie Scamps’ win this time. I called Mackellar as a dark horse winner early – outstanding candidate, wing woman Louise Hislop and volunteer coordinator Leonie Scarlett. Thank you so much Leonie for telling your story on No Fibs. 

IN JULY 2020, after six months of deliberation, a group of women held the first Kitchen Table Conversation for Voices of Mackellar (VOM). At the table were two small business owners, a photographer, a World Vision employee, a doctor, a prior CEO of a global charity with an AO to her name, and a young woman fresh out of Uni with a journalism degree.

Most of us were mothers, all were sisters and daughters and all had been contributors to their communities in various capacities over the years – school, sport, church, etc. Your stock standards community members, happy to help out and often asked to do so.

Voices of Mackellar founding members, Leonie Scarlett and Rebecca Clarke, at March for Justice, 2021 – Photo: Margo Kingston

Roll forward a year and by mid 2021 our endeavours to encourage people to discuss democracy and representation in Mackellar had us recast. We were misrepresented by our local member as a left-wing front group, the next chapter in the book of GetUp. We were apparently running false and misleading advertising, raising money from unsuspecting people, were a political party and we held rallies. We’d certainly come a long way according to some, but they had not cast us accurately. 

All we wanted was to be heard and we backed the theory that others in this community on Sydney’s northern beaches desired the same. We had the capacity to do the listening and that was the key. It was everything. The model of the Kitchen Table Conversations, brought together the affluent and the less affluent, the left and the right, men and women, old and young. They came from every suburb across this electorate and the messages came loud and clear. The political system is failing us, inclusion is a thing of the past, when did honesty and integrity become irrelevant, the system needs to be overhauled, fixed. 

It was inevitable that some of the founding members of VOM would go on to build the foundation for political change in Mackellar, and that came with the establishment of Mackellar Rising and the independent platform. Mackellar Rising’s mandate was clear, the only way forward was for independent representation. They built their tribe, whilst Voices continued to do the listening.

Again, and again, we heard our community’s call: action on climate change, get integrity back front and centre into our system’s of governance. This was a community of extraordinary individuals who had capacity and passion and guts to speak up. It was a community that cared.     

Mackellar – election night, 2022

I hope books are written and movies are made of what came next, because what has happened here in Mackellar in the last six months and six weeks is worthy of historical account. The people who have stepped forward to create this change in Mackellar number in their thousands, but there are hundreds amongst those thousands who have surprised even themselves at what they have helped achieve. They know who they are. They have stepped up, led, and encouraged those around them to see a better future for this community and this country.

We have all grown from this experience and have much to be proud of. This community has been transformed. We’ve done this together and together with the first Independent for Mackellar, Sophie Scamps, we will continue to grow. 

Independent candidate for Mackellar, Dr Sophie Scamps. (Photo: Twitter)

Here’s our coverage of #MackellarVotes 2022