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Mentor Match: an interview with Georgie Purcell MP and Cr Jenna Davey-Burns

Head and shoulder photos of Georgie Purcell and Jenna Davey-Burns against a dark blue background

Through the Pathways Alum Mentoring Program, mentors from across the political spectrum are matched to Pathways to Politics alums to further empower and support them to actualise their political aspirations. Mentors provide practical support around potential election strategies, a safe space for discussion, problem solving and motivation.

Photo of Georgie Purcell smiling, bare arms covered in tattoos, greenery in the background

Georgie Purcell MP (Animal Justice Party) was elected as a member of the Victorian Legislative Council representing Northern Victoria in November 2022. She is an alum of the 2020 University of Melbourne’s Pathways to Politics Program for Women and participated as a mentee in the Pathways Alum Mentoring program in 2022.

Photo of Jenna Davey-Burns smiling wearing a bright yellow summer dress, historical building and palm tree in the background

Cr Jenna Davey-Burns is Councillor at the City of Kingston, where she also served as Deputy Mayor between November 2021-November 2022. An alum of the 2019 University of Melbourne’s Pathways to Politics Program for Women, Jenna was a mentee in the inaugural Pathways Alum Mentoring program in 2020, before becoming a mentor to Georgie in 2022.

“For women in politics, no matter where you sit politically, there’s a kind of shared camaraderie and understanding.”

– Georgie Purcell MP

Georgie: When the Pathways to Politics mentoring opportunity came up, I had a solid plan to run and I knew that I would need direction and guidance. I’d heard from other people who had participated in the program, both mentees and mentors, about how valuable it was to both of them. Fiona Patten [Leader of the Reason Party] in particular really encouraged me to take part.

Jenna and I worked really well together as a match because even though we aren’t in the same political party – Jenna is an Independent and I’m a member of the Animal Justice Party – we approach and view things very similarly. She supported me through my decision to run and the challenging transition to being a candidate. I learned so much from her.

Jenna: Mentoring Georgie has been immensely enriching. Watching her have the bravery and the courage to step forward was so rewarding for me as a mentor. Her values and integrity really struck me. I’ve been mentoring for a really long time, and I’ve been mentored too, but I was in awe of Georgie’s tenacity and the way she brought her whole self.

I really recognise the value of mentoring having signed up to the Pathways mentoring program as a mentee – it was my first year on council, and I really needed some guidance. Sally Capp [Lord Mayor of Melbourne] was my mentor, and Sally has a very deliberate and decisive way that she does things, and she does it with absolute compassion and heart. It was wonderful to share that river of knowledge and wisdom from Sally about staying on goals, on point, and connected to heart into the conversations that I have with Georgie.

I really love opportunities to be both the student and the teacher at the same time. In the time that I’ve spent with Georgie, I learned lots of things too.

Georgie’s first speech in Parliament, 2023

Georgie: A really important thing I learnt from Jenna is about the importance of self-care and setting boundaries. She had some really good advice and feedback for me about managing difficult, stressful situations in a way that was sustainable for me.

Jenna: I’m so glad to you hear that. It needs to be self-sustaining. Since Georgie was elected, I can already see the online trolling ramp up. You have to think about your mental health and how you manage that as you get further into your term.

Georgie: It doesn’t hurt me like it used to. But it’s also not healthy to be become so resilient to sexism and misogyny!

I’m quite a self-doubting and sensitive person. One of the most valuable things I learned from Jenna is that not everyone is going to like me, and people are going to challenge me. I can’t control that. So I just need to focus on moving forward and doing what I need to do.

Jenna also has this really great talent: when I would come to her with a problem she would pull it apart bit by bit in a way that made it easy to understand, and then give me strategies and homework to go away with.

Jenna: One thing that surprised me about mentoring Georgie was the meaningful impact that we had on each other’s year. It wasn’t regular contact, and it didn’t need to be, because the times that we had together were deeply impactful and meaningful for me.

Georgie: I knew that Jenna was there when I needed her, which is the most important thing, I think.

We obviously had the formal mentoring meetings, but we also follow each other on Instagram and keep in touch a lot. When Jenna knew that I had a difficult decision or conversation coming up, she would send me a supportive text message.

For women in politics, no matter where you sit politically, there’s a kind of shared camaraderie and understanding. Our lives are a little bit more difficult than the men’s, we face more challenges. Having a mentor who has been through it all too has been so valuable.

Jenna: Georgie, I love that you are so unashamedly you. It’s been a pleasure to watch from the very moment that we met. And it’s just the beginning – you will be such an attribute to Parliament.

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