Ja­clyn Symes

Alpine Observer - - People Around Town -

What is your job?

I’m the Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria, which means I am the Up­per House Gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive for this re­gion.

Is it some­thing you al­ways wanted to do?

No. I grew up in Be­nalla, and I was the first per­son in my fam­ily to com­plete year 12 and go to univer­sity. I stud­ied law. That was al­most ac­ci­den­tal be­cause I didn’t think I had the marks to get in, but I found out I did. I went to Deakin – a big move for a coun­try kid. I lived in a share house with four other Be­nalla kids. While I was study­ing I got a job car­ing for peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, so uni and that work tracked along with a pas­sion for ad­vo­cacy for very vul­ner­a­ble peo- ple. When I fin­ished law I de­cided I wasn’t at­tracted by the com­bat of court. I was lost for a while, so I went to Perth with some friends. I wanted to stay in ad­vo­cacy so I an­swered an ad for a ju­nior lawyer with the Aus­tralian Ser­vices Union. I had done well in in­dus­trial re­la­tions in uni, so that job tran­si­tioned my pas­sion for ad­vo­cacy for the dis­abled to ad­vo­cacy for work­ers’ rights. I also worked as a se­cu­rity guard for a pub: that was fun. Then I started to find Perth a bit far away so I trans­ferred to the Mel­bourne of­fice of the ASU. I was only there for 12 months when I got the op­por­tu­nity to work for Rob Hulls, the Min­is­ter for In­dus­trial Re­la­tions. That was my in­tro­duc­tion to pol­i­tics.

How did you get this cur­rent po­si­tion?

I went to work for Daniel An­drews as his le­gal ad­vi­sor. Eight weeks be­fore the 2014 elec­tions a can­di­date had to with­draw for health rea­sons and I was given the op­por­tu­nity to run for North­ern Vic­to­ria. The elec­tion was very tight in the up­per house and I found out af­ter three weeks I had got in by 124 votes. The great ad­van­tage of be­ing such a mar­ginal MP is that I don’t take any­thing for granted. I do what I can while I can.

What brings you to the Val­ley?

My re­gion is mas­sive, so I don’t get to the Val­ley as of­ten as I’d like. My fo­cus is on ed­u­ca­tion, jobs and health, but ob­vi­ously I am asked to re­solve is­sues and get com­mu­nity projects up. I was re­cently in Mt Beauty to an­nounce the out­come of the Pick My Project grants, where two lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions re­ceived $200,000 each to de­velop their vi­sions.

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