Northern Victoria is an area of this great state that continues to be an integral part of my family’s life. We have a lengthy history through the goldfields of Bendigo, Castlemaine, Newstead and down through to Woodend. Many of us continue to live in these towns today. My mum and my stepfather along with three of my four siblings moved to Bendigo when I was a teenager. My younger sister still lives there today with her family, and my older sister is just down the road at Woodend.
Bendigo, I am pleased to say, is also the place where I married my wife. Her family have been a part of the Castlemaine and Newstead communities for well over a century, working in a variety of jobs including farming and local government. I think it was a very proud day for her family when recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook were featured in the Newstead Historical Society centennial publication.
Growing up we all fell in love with sport, particularly footy and netball. Today sport plays such an important role in the lives of many Victorians as we know, particularly in northern Victoria. It can provide an important bridge to overcome some of those inequalities that exist in our communities.
I left Bendigo after sitting the public service entrance exam and was subsequently offered a job in the tax office. I was immediately attracted to the local union, the tax office’s branch of the Federated Clerks Union, which subsequently became the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU). In my first few months at work the union always talked about an agenda that included better pay, better conditions, safer workplaces, worker training, education and tackling inequality.
I think about the challenges young people in particular face today. Accessing technology and obtaining the skills to use it is crucial. More and more of our young people are leaving the education system with mounting debt. Job security for them is a thing of the past as employment becomes increasingly precarious. Owning a home is a pipedream for many and is more expensive and more difficult than ever before, and real wages have been declining for some time.
It really is a great honour and privilege to be joining the Andrews government as a member for Northern Victoria Region. This great government is tackling the big issues confronting all Victorians. That is important to me, and I am proud that our government is creating jobs, building infrastructure and implementing progressive health, education and social policies.
Working to address inequality is the ultimate Sisyphean task, and it is why I have worked all my life to give voice to workers and now to the people of Northern Victoria.