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Jana Stewart – Labor candidate for Kooyong

12 May 2019

I believe in an Australia where children can rise above their circumstances. Where, as a community, we provide the stepping stones for people to set their own directions.

I believe in an Australia where children can rise above their circumstances. Where, as a community, we provide the stepping stones for people to set their own directions.

I believe in this, because I have lived it.

I grew up in a home that knew family violence and drug addiction. As the eldest of six, I was the protector of my siblings. I was the one who stepped into the middle of fights trying to stop them.

It was me who put my siblings in another room, so they wouldn’t have to witness the violence. It was my name they would cry to protect our mum when things were escalating, because they knew what would happen if they didn’t.

Many young lives are made up of such moments. Defining moments. Moments, that when brought together, make you the person that you are today.

Growing up, I remember hearing the statistics that were meant to define me.

I was going to die nearly 20 years younger than my peers, I was going to have diabetes, I would be unemployed, I was going to have children very young, I wouldn’t go to university.

I was told, just like my mother, I would end up in a violent relationship.

My name is Jana Stewart and I’m a proud Aboriginal woman of the Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba peoples.

I didn’t have a choice in any of this, my destiny was already laid out in front of me.

But I had different plans.

My name is Jana Stewart and I’m a proud Aboriginal woman of the Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba peoples.

I am also the Labor candidate for Kooyong. These are my statistics.

I completed two tertiary qualifications before I was 25. I bought my first home when I was 21. I have been employed since I was 18 and completed Year 12.

Three years ago I had my first child, and this year I will stand for Kooyong to make sure that the kind of opportunities afforded to me are afforded to all Australians.

Because, despite my life experiences and the statistics, I consider myself to be a fortunate person. I grew up knowing who I was and where I was connected. I grew up with my identity and with people who believed in me.

It was this privilege, it was my life experiences, it was the generations of advocacy before me, that have prepared me for the role of representing Kooyong.

I know what it’s like to not be heard, and my commitment to Kooyong is to listen and be their champion for change.

I know Australia needs a national approach to tackling climate change. We can’t leave it to our children to solve.

I’ve been doing a lot of listening – in parks, in pubs, in cafes, and at BBQs. And it is very obvious that the mood in Kooyong is changing. The people of Kooyong want a vision for Australia where we address the big issues. Where we talk about climate change. Where we leave a better community – and a better Australia – for our kids. There is a shift in the type of policies that matter. Policies that are not reflected within the current Liberal Party.

I have spent my working life as a clinical family therapist, a project facilitator in land and heritage, a lecturer, senior policy advisor and advocate for children and families. My career is built on trust and finding common sense approaches to solving problems.

That’s why I’ll make sure that the kids of Kooyong have access to high quality, innovative and responsive education that prepares them for a dynamic future.

I know Australia needs a national approach to tackling climate change. We can’t leave it to our children to solve.

If we can get our policies around environment and education right now we’ll give our children and our country the best possible future.

My defining moment was actively deciding not to become the statistics I was supposed to be.

I’ve worked hard and built a life out of listening and empowering other people’s voices. Now I want to do that for the people of Kooyong.

Because we all deserve the best possible future.

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