In this blog series, we ask our alums to tell us about their personal ‘pathway to politics’ and provide their recommendations for content that will help support, guide, inspire and engage other women on their political journey.
In October 2022, we spotlight alums running in the Victorian State election.
Jacqui Hawkins, Independent candidate for Benambra
To be honest, if you’d have told 10-year-old me that I’d be running for parliament someday, I wouldn’t have believed it. In fact, I remember one of my sisters saying something along these lines to me in 2018 when I first stood as an independent candidate for the Victorian State seat of Benambra. And rightly so. I was a knockabout kid, the fifth generation of a farming family from Staghorn Flat in North East Victoria. If I wasn’t on the netball court, I was out kicking a footy – and I spent most of my spare time trailing around after my dad on the farm or in the shearing shed, feeding poddy calves, or wandering around in the hills overlooking Allans Flat with a motley crew of farm dogs and a Jack Russell in tow.
For me, the decision to run for office in 2018 and now again in 2022 is about providing our community with a different way of doing politics and offering a vision by community, for community. That’s the thing about being a community Independent. It’s actually not about being a politician. It’s about being a real person. I’ve grown up, lived in, built my connections and relationships in my community and I have a deep emotional connection to it. I want it to be a vibrant and healthy community, and ensure it’s better for the future generations to come.
I’ve worked across a range of sectors – from veterinary services to manufacturing, research and development to road construction as a geo-technician, to higher education at La Trobe University and state and federal politics. Most recently I worked in Bushfire Recovery across North East Victoria as a senior regional tourism adviser supporting the regional recovery post bushfires and COVID-19.
I enjoy giving back to community and have volunteered as director at a local community foundation and Kestrel Recruitment, and I’ve been a member of the National Rural Women’s Coalition Communication Advisory Group. Currently I’m secretary of the Albury Wodonga Football Association, and chair of the inaugural women’s subcommittee for Football Association. I’ve studied justice, sociology, psychology, business management and I have a Master’s in International Relations.
It’s through my work and volunteering that I’ve gained an appreciation for the complexity and nuance of our community. For the way people come together to support each other, whether that’s on the football field, or in the aftermath of a bushfire. I’ve seen, firsthand, the innovation that exists in our communities. The common values that bring us together. The benefits that come with regional living. The fact that people genuinely love and care for their communities and want to play a part in carving out a future together.
Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell – The Lady Vanishes episode
This is my all-time favourite podcast episode. Malcolm Gladwell asks whether we got history right the first time. And, if not, what can we do to revise it? In this episode he explores the concept of moral licensing by looking at the connection between a painting that could have changed England, its art, and potentially the world (‘The Roll Call’, painted by the unknown Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler in 1874) and the misogyny faced by Julia Gillard during her time as Australia’s first female Prime Minister.
Knock Down the House documentary
A 2019 American documentary that follows the 2018 congressional primary campaigns of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin, four progressive Democrats endorsed by Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress who ran in that year’s midterm elections. Terrific insights into different types of grassroots campaigns.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign video
US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 election campaign video – every time I watch it I get goose bumps.
Talking to My Country by Stan Grant
An extraordinarily powerful and personal meditation on race, culture, and identity – it’s a book that certainly leaves an impression on you.
Get Elected by Ruth McGowan
A practical book of shared learning and real experiences on the election campaign trails. This is a must have if you’re considering running for office, with tons of insight into the mechanics of running a campaign, setting up a team and how to get elected.
How great leaders inspire action – Simon Sinek TED talk
I have watched this TED Talk so many times. It’s a powerful message about using the rule of the ‘golden circle’ to communicate your message and inspiring others.