Putting practice into theory
Alumna Danielle Kidd recently ran as a Labor candidate for Braddon in Tasmania. Born and raised in Burnie in the North-West Tasmanian electoral division she campaigned to represent, Danielle is an advocate for social justice. We spoke to Danielle on the campaign trail to hear about her political inspiration and her advice for aspiring female politicians.
Politics is about helping people
I am from a politically engaged family, growing up we were always discussing politics around the dinner table. My Dad taught me about critical thinking and analysis. I'd like to think I am in the position I am today because of my parents' training.
Whilst we discussed politics at home, I wasn't involved in student politics when I was at university. My professional career started with my first job at 22, working for the Tasmanian leader of the Opposition.
It was at that time that I joined the Labor Party and began working in politics in the North West in the Braddon electorate.
I was working predominantly in advocacy. I think that people are often at the end of their tether when they come to a politician for help. The people I was seeing were dealing with some serious and difficult situations.
I was going home at the end of the day feeling thankful to have a roof over my head and food on the table. It made me conscious of trying to do something to help someone every day. Politics for me became less about theory and much more about helping people. That has stayed with me ever since.
Theory and practice
After Labor won the election I worked for a time in the Ministers Office. I decided that I wanted more experience out in the world so I left Tasmania and moved to Melbourne.
I was working in Corporate Services at the Melbourne Zoo and found that I missed being around policy and politics. Enrolling in the Master of Public Policy and Management was a great way to meet people and get my politics fix. Having the ability to attend classes outside normal working hours helped me balance work and study.
My masters' study was a great way to formalise my theoretical understanding of the work I had been doing in the Ministerial Office.
Working on policy ideas in this election campaign I have found myself returning to what I learnt in the Master of Public Policy and Management. It helps me bring rigor to policy development.
Danielle at a Pathways to Politics for Women session
Don't judge, help
In terms of political inspiration, I want to reflect on the example that my mother set for me. When I was growing up the door of our house was always open to anyone who needed to come in and be safe. There was always an extra one or two people at the dinner table.
Mum taught me to care about people other than myself. She taught me not to judge but to help.
The next generation of female leaders
At the most basic level, over half of Australia's population is female therefore we should be represented by more women. More women being in politics will mean different opinions, experiences and ideas are heard.
The year I applied for the Pathways to Politics Program for Women I was making the final decision to nominate and it felt like the right time.
From the first night, the sense of camaraderie in the room was incredible. We were women from different parts of the country, from different backgrounds and political parties but from the start, there was a sense that what united us was greater than what divides us.
My advice to women aspiring to politics is if you can apply for the Pathways to Politics Program absolutely do it. You get to learn from amazing guest speakers and you get practical advice and training.
You also connect with a group of women who will become your advisors, confidantes and friends.
Applications for the Pathways to Politics Program for Women are now open.