Meet a Candidate: Rebecca Vassarotti

22 June 2016

Jordan Lim

Jordan is the Communications and Advocacy Officer at YWCA Canberra.

With elections looming at both the territory and federal levels, we were interested to meet the women candidates standing for election for the ACT Legislative Assembly, to learn a bit more about them and their priorities for the community.
This week, meet Rebecca Vassarotti, Greens Candidate for Kurrajong. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.Rebecca Vassarotti - blog
I am a Canberra native with a wonderful partner, three children in primary school and a dog –so I live a pretty normal life. For about 15 years I have been working in the local and national community sector, in areas including gender, homelessness, consumer health, and reducing poverty and inequality. I love travel and reading and spending time with family and friends.

What drove you to run for the Legislative Assembly?
For much of my adult live I have been advocating for change, particularly to make our community a fairer and more equal one and so while always close to local politics never imagined that I would be a politician. The recent experiences of the Australian political system however made me realise that we need people who were connected to the community and who have a variety of life experiences to put up their hands and be part of the political process.

Having spent much of my life telling young women to get involved in leadership, I realised it was time for me to get involved. I think we can do politics differently and believe that new ways of sharing political power can lead to better decisions. I ran for the Legislative Assembly because I believe that the decisions made at this level are the ones that most impact on our everyday lives.

What is something that people may be surprised to know about Kurrajong, and what do you see as the key issues facing the electorate?
Many people are surprised to learn they live in the Kurrajong electorate, given it is one of the new electorates announced by the ACT Electorate Commission a couple of years ago! It encompasses the inner north and inner south of Canberra. The Kurrajong tree is found in inner parts of Australia and the early settlers of Canberra referred to Capital Hill as Kurrajong Hill.

I have been spending lots of time talking to people in Kurrajong and there are lots of issues people care about. People care about access to healthcare, and ensuring quality education from pre-school to university. People in Kurrajong care the nature of our suburbs and how we can create vibrant communities. People care about the environment and how we can leave this a better place for our kids.

What are the barriers that you see to gender equality in our community, and how do you propose to address this?
There are many barriers to gender equality in our community. From the moment girls are born, they face different expectations and are treated differently. While girls perform better at school as a group, when they enter the workforce they get less pay and are promoted less often. Women bear most caring responsibilities – from looking after children and increasing looking after ageing parents. One in three women will be the victim of violence over their lifetime.

To address these issues we need more women in leadership positions, we need to raise the issues and advocate for change, and we need to put in place specific programs that address inequality and discrimination.

In our election platform we have identified three priority areas which require ongoing action. How do you envisage developing a more inclusive, equitable Canberra?
We have a great opportunity to address the issues identified by YWCA of Canberra. In relation to the priority areas:

  • Supporting children and young people: we need to support needs based education, to ensure all our children and young people have their needs best and can reach their potential. We also need to support programs such as respectful relationship education in schools to address issues like gender inequity
  • Gender inequality and violence against women: these issues are intimately linked, and as noted above, we need to start working with children at a young age to address gender equity. We need to better support our crisis services so they can respond and support survivors of violence. The courts need to better support families as they move through the system and we need to support workplace policies that support gender equity
  • An inclusive and equitable community: we all have a role in creating a more inclusive and equitable community. We need to recognise that many people are struggling because of structural discrimination and not because of individual issues – few people realise that we are only two paychecks away from homelessness. We need to support groups in our community who are marginalised and lend a hand to those who are struggling. We cannot condemn families to generations of poverty and create opportunities – through education, employment and support programs. We need to build community connection and opportunities to learn from eachother.

What is the change that you are passionate about seeing in Canberra?
I love Canberra. I have been so privileged through the opportunities that have been provided to me in this community. I love the diversity of our community and want to ensure we continue to celebrate our diversity. I want to see all our citizens get the same opportunities, and be supported to reach their potential.

 

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