CSL taught me some valuable lessons about leadership and about the importance of finding one's place in the world where you can make the most difference with your skills and talents.
What are you about?
Growing up by the Murray River in Mildura, I saw first-hand the impact that drought and climate change has on our environment, industries and way of life. When I moved to Melbourne to attend University, I became involved with the Australian Youth Clmiate Coalition. Upon graduating, I worked for the Office of Climate Change in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet. Through my work, and in particular after working with young people from around the world, including from vulnerable Pacific Islands, I became even more passionate about protecting people and the environment from the damaging effects of climate change.
I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life to working on this issue. Now that Tony Abbott is our PM, I want to make sure he cannot rip up everything we’d worked so hard to acheive, such as the $10 billion investment in renewable energy, and the price on pollution.
What have you been up to since CSL?
I worked for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, a national climate change not-for-profit, from 2008 until 2012. From 2010 to 2012 I was the CEO. I left the AYCC at the end of 2012, and in 2013 I ran the ACT Greens Federal Election campaign where we narrowly missed out on getting Simon Sheikh (former head of GetUp) elected to the Senate.
I’m now running as the Greens candidate for Melbourne in the November 2014 state election. There is a real chance the Greens could get balance of power at this election. Having strong progressive voices in state Parliament can prevent Abbott from ripping up everything we care about – such as climate change policies and fair treatment for refugees.
How did your CSL Fellowship benefit you?
Through CSL I met so many inspiring and interesting people who I have kept in touch with and worked with. I often still cross paths with CSL alumni, it’s great to know there’s a network of people out there all working on changing the world for the better, in so many different fields.
What’s next for you?
2014 will be a big year – I’m running in the Victorian election for the seat of Melbourne for the Greens. Last election we came very close to winning Melbourne, and Adam Bandt’s win at the Federal level in 2013 was very inspiring. It shows that Melburnians want a different type of politician from business as usual: they want someone who will stand up for what matters and care for people and the environment. I really look forward to a big year and especially to working with all the passionate Greens volunteers.
What do you think the future holds?
I’d love to see an Australia where we better care for people and the environment. I believe we need people in all sectors to make this happen: business, government and non-profits. At the moment, with Abbott in the Lodge, I believe electing progressive, compassionate voices to Parliament (particularly state parliament) is one really great way to effect this change. That is why I’m working with the Greens this election
Follow Ellen’s campaign journey via her website, and on Facebook using the links below.
More alumni from 2009 Melbourne Fellowship
Director, Energy For The People & The People's Solar
Lecturer, Victorian College of the Arts
Community Coordinator, Australian Conversion Foundation.