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Insight from Cathy McGowan - South Gippsland Sentinel Times 3 April 2024

Insight from Cathy McGowan

CONTINUING the running theme of guest speakers with experience running successful campaigns for independent community representation in Canberra, the Politics in the Pub event hosted by Voices for Monash recently proved to be enlightening and delightful! Featuring community advocate and former in- dependent MP for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, as guest speaker sharing stories and details from her two successful campaigns and time in Canberra over the journey to now, where she travels the country connecting with local communities who want better political representation.

A fierce advocate for community representation, the proud 'dairy farmer's daughter' described her journey growing up in the country and how dairy co-ops worked for the farmers and locals rather than concentrating resources and power in Melbourne and Sydney - likening the duopoly in politics between the Lib/ Nat coalition and Labor to the supermarket power of Coles and Woolworths.

Community has been central to her journey across a career in consultancy before politics (where she advocated and organised health service for rural communities struggling to receive care) with those skills transferring to her ability to mobilise a movement for her two successful campaigns and then translating that acumen and organisation to her role as local MP representing the voice of the people in her region.

Host for the evening, Deb Leonard, asked how being an independent is different from being a party member. Cathy explained that as an independent, the community shaped her policies and achievements from building more mobile phone towers in the many blackspots, to implementing better mental health facilities in rural towns, to improving transport across the electorate. Not constrained by party politics, Cathy, and her successor Helen Haines MP have been able to focus on issues that are vital to their community.

Cathy advocated for listening to the community via kitchen table conversations and community engagement, that was the key to building her platform in her first term in Canberra. Voices for Monash are now mir- roring this formula for success and are conducting Kitchen Table Conversations and listening events all over the Monash electorate.

Cathy said the community have a vital role to play in achieving better representation: "Only by doing the work will community representation come to be" she said.

Deb Leonard said that Voices for Monash are actively working on increasing community engagement and ensuring they are listening to the voices of all communities across the electorate to deter- mine how they want to be represented.

"But we need more of you involved!" says Deb.

"If you're interested in mobilising and have a skill set, resources and networks then please connect with Voices for Monash via our website and social channels".

More information can be found at


South Gippsland Sentinel Times

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