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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020 2020) . . Page.. 49 ..

with local communities and making a tangible difference to lives locally. And what amazing experiences I had at this time—from being part of a team to set up a new environmental agency to leading some work around the accessibility of government agencies and being part of the bushfire recovery process following the devastating 2003 bushfires.

During this time in the public service, a very special opportunity came along to get involved in a project leading the very first ACT poverty inquiry, a joint project between the ACT government and ACT Council of Social Service. While I had always known that people in our local community were struggling, this was a transformational experience. I got to sit with people as they shared their experiences about being poor in a city that did not acknowledge that there was much disadvantage at all. It also included working with service providers who were fighting to access the resources to support these people and working with researchers who were developing methods to quantify the extent of a problem that until this point we had never named or acknowledged.

I am immensely grateful that I was able to contribute to a project that changed the face of our city’s understanding of poverty and disadvantage and whose legacy, I believe, can still be seen today. It made me realise how the actions of a small group of people with a clear purpose, a commitment to evidence and the ability to ethically walk with people who are marginalised to support them to share their experiences could make a real difference.

It was in large part due to this experience that I made the decision, seen as very unusual at the time, to pursue different opportunities outside the public service. My life was changed when a group of women running an organisation whose vision was for women to reach their potential lived that value and appointed me to the role of Executive Director of YWCA Canberra. This was the entry point to an incredible journey of almost two decades of working with local, national and international community sector organisations.

Through working with the YWCA, but also with others—including the Council of Social Service movement, homelessness and community housing organisations, and health-based organisations—I have had the chance to work with the most talented, passionate and compassionate people you could ever meet, working to support people and fix the systems and structures that lead to disadvantage and marginalisation.

Through this time, I have become passionate about many issues: gender equity, homelessness, social exclusion, and marginalisation due to health status and sexual identity. I have worked to support people going through the most challenging of times through work on guardianship, mental health and energy hardship tribunals. I have worked to support people who have been cut out of health care because of issues such as drug use and I have worked to shine a light on the impacts of gambling harm that go far beyond individual responsibility and impact.

I have had many people speculate on what has motivated my interest in these issues. They are often surprised that it is not because of personal experience but because of a deep belief that we all need to take responsibility and that if we can bring our skills,

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