Young mums get first taste of politics

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WHILE they may be on opposing sides, newly elected Canberra Liberals MLA Giulia Jones and Labor MLA Yvette Berry both feel they will bring “fresh ideas” to their respective electorates.

Giulia, who ran for the Liberals in 2008 and narrowly missed out on a seat, admits she’s been like “a fish out of the frying pan” since the election.
“I’ve been enjoying it all, it’s a lot to take in,” she says.

“Losing [the 2008 election] was hard, but it means I can appreciate where I am now more.”

With four children under seven, Giulia, 32, is used to “blending work and family life.”

“I think the important thing for people to remember is there’s no such thing as a supermum,” she says.

“There’s just a mum with a superteam. I think my kids learn a lot by having a sort of exposure to what I’m doing. I’m not so big on the term to ‘juggle’, mums aren’t clowns. It’s a job of blending all the different aspects of your life as it suits you best.”

Growing up in Tasmania with an Italian migrant mother and four siblings, Giulia says she learnt quickly how to make her voice heard.

“I grew up in a family where we talked about the outcome of politics a lot but no-one ever talked about getting involved,” she says.

“I wanted to be part of the solution, not just part of the whingers.”

She studied a bachelor of arts before moving to Canberra with her husband, who works in the Defence Force, in 2006.

“I think Canberra is the best city I’ve ever lived in – it’s so beautiful, and there’s so many opportunities,” she says.

Giulia, who has previously worked for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and as a political staffer for Tony Abbott, says the main focus of her Molonglo electorate are the “bread and butter issues.”

“I’ll be working on improving people’s daily lives, things like transport and facilities and close shops and parks for mums, that’s going to be my main focus and, of course, when people bring things to my attention,” she says.

“I’m interested in more options for young people. I want to see a situation where kids are able to have as many opportunities as they can and stay in this beautiful city.”

Yvette has lived in Canberra all her life and grew up with politics in her family: her father Wayne served as Deputy Chief Minister from 1991 to 1994 and was Speaker of the Assembly from 2001 to 2008.

Yvette worked in the hospitality industry before joining workers’ organisation United Voice. For more than 15 years she worked as a community organiser, representing workers and their families.

In her electorate of Ginninderra, Yvette says she wants to focus on early childhood education and childcare and encourage federal politicians to fund the sector.

“I believe it’s important to recognise the work of early childhood educators through funding and the federal government, but my passion for this came from my children being in childcare and having a real understanding of the work these people do in giving our children the best start in life,” she says.

With two children, Yvette believes it’s important to find time for family.

“It’s not easy, but you have to be strong,” she says.

“You have to keep that time as family time. I put the phone down, put the ipad away. When I get home, I like to play basketball or walk the dog with the kids.”

She says her strength is her ability to “engage the community”.

“I think with politicians in Canberra, people are realising we are accessible, and that they can talk to us,” she says.

“Women in particular have a different style with the way they negotiate, and it’s good to see politicians are human beings as well, they’re mothers, they have family, and they play basketball.”

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