A Woman’s Place is in the House, and the Senate!

15 May 2019

YWCA Canberra welcomed members and supporters to our federal election Meet the Candidate event on Wednesday 1 May. It was a brilliant opportunity for attendees to get the latest details on election platforms as they relate to gender equality and women’s policy more broadly, and for candidates to fine-tune their messages, before heading to the ballot box on 18 May.

In the past, these events have been well attended by candidates, their supporters and members of YWCA Canberra, and this event was no different with the event selling out and five of the seven invited female candidates accepting our invitation to address the audience and network in smaller groups.  

We’ve been privileged to have an impressive array of female candidates attend these events in the past, at the inception of their careers in public office, including Katy Gallagher, Caroline Le Couteur, Nicole Lawder and Gai Brodtmann MP 

This time, we were thrilled to welcome Mina Zaki (Canberra Liberal for the seat of the Canberra), Alicia Payne (ACT Labor for Canberra), Nancy Waites (ACT Labor candidate for the Senate), Emma Davidson (ACT Greens candidate for the Senate) and Therese Faulkner (Australian Progressives candidate for the seat of Bean).  

Meet the Candidate is an important opportunity for attendees to mingle comfortably with each other and build relationships with candidates that can last over the course of their careers in politics or in community leadership.  

The night started with all candidates giving a three-minute introductory stump speech about their pathway into politics and their plans to represent Canberra women. First up, we heard from Mina Zaki about her early life growing up in Afghanistan and journey to living in Australia with her mother.  

From ACT Labor we welcomed both Nancy Waites and Alicia Payne who talked about the value of good public policy in shaping people’s lives and Labor’s platform for gender equality and responding to domestic violence.  

Therese Faulkner spoke about how she came to find a place in the Australian Progressives, a relatively new micro-party that she believed was uncompromisingly progressive and building a strong local following. She also reflected on her life as a public servant and how in the course of her career, she saw how the role of women in the Australian Public Service, particularly at the executive level, evolved to become more inclusive and representative 

Emma Davidson, second Senate candidate for the ACT Greens spoke about her Party’s commitment to building an equitable future for all Canberrans and the need to take strong action to tackle climate change without delay.  

Candidates then moved to separate tables and were joined by small groups, who had seven minutes to ask personal questions and engage in more meaningful conversation. When the seven minutes was over, attendees would move to another candidate for more question and answer time, though the conversations were so engaging that it was difficult getting people to move on!   

Unlike other candidate panel events, where candidates usually struggle for air time while talking over a noisy bar or interjections from their fellow panellists, our model of small group interactions creates a safe space for women candidates to listen and be heard.   

We overheard lots of conversations regarding older women’s homelessness, poverty amongst single parents and responses to domestic and family violence.  

After everyone had the chance to meet with each candidate, we ended the evening’s formal proceedings with a group photo and continued some of those conversations with some wine and canapes. 

We are grateful to everyone who came along to this event and wish the candidates every success. We look forward to seeing a strong upward shift on the current rate of 33.2 per cent female representation in federal parliament! 

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