As a nurse and midwife, Sarah Elliott has seen first hand both the impact the pandemic has had on people and the effect decisions made by governments can "make and break people".
And, the Labor candidate for Calare says, she's seen those calls break people, more often than not.
It's why, even though she didn't anticipate running in the 2022 federal election, she's been campaigning hard for Labor over the last month.
Outside of politics I am a registered nurse and registered midwife. I have worked in both hospital and community settings. I also teach nursing casually with Charles Sturt University.
I grew up in Lithgow and often travelled to Bathurst for music lessons and occasionally sport. Up until the election, I worked in Lithgow as a Community Midwife (I had to resign from this job in order to stand for federal election). At present I do live in the Blue Mountains, but do have a house in Lithgow under renovation which we would move into when completed.
It was a situation where I was watching candidates being declared for various electorates and was wondering who was running for Calare. After some weeks, people in Lithgow were asking me who was going to be Labor's candidate for Calare. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I started asking who was being put forward for preselection. When it was confirmed that there was no one identified (two others who considered were unable to for their own personal reasons), I said 'maybe I should put my hand up' not expecting to be taken seriously ... and here we are.
It was a decision not taken lightly, especially as it is a considered 'safe' seat, and that I would need to resign from my employment with NSW Health to run in the election. It would also not have been possible without the support of my husband who cashed in long service leave and took annual leave to keep us afloat during the election period.
As a nurse and midwife ... you really get to see how political decisions and policies can make and break people. Working in community health, I see more people broken than being made, especially in rural areas. Rural people face greater disadvantages to city people in terms of distance and access for services, especially health care services.
The disadvantage is being further compounded by a growing housing crisis, wage suppression policies of conservative governments and inflation that is making affordability for many people and their families difficult.
Many health professionals are aware of what we call the 'social determinants of health'. The SDoH are dictated by your gender, location, education level, access to services, racial and cultural background, disability and employment opportunities. These determinants are affected by policies and government decision making.
On a personal level, I am constantly frustrated by the current government policies that seem to act more in the interests of the few rather than the interests of everyone. I am drawn to Labor for its social justice, equality, workers advocacy and the fact that it is the party of great reforms that benefit people.
Julia Gillard and Penny Wong. Great Labor women and leaders.
As a nurse, aged care and rural health is a very important issue for me. The stories told to me personally from people who experienced outrageously poor care and long wait times for treatment, including surgery for fractures caused by systemic policy failures of government have been shocking.
The stories told to me by doctors, nurses and allied health professionals have also pointed to systemic failures from both federal and state levels. This must be addressed urgently.
Aged care needs also to be addressed urgently. The aged care sector has suffered too long from neglect which was outlined in the Aged Care Royal Commission. It was also left struggling during COVID-19.
COVID-19 exposed the inadequacies along with the employment instabilities of care workers who work often casualised employment for poor pay and conditions across multiple aged care facilities. This even caused the spread of COVID-19 into aged care facilities.
Climate change is certainly a concern. Labor has a history of being the party that has attempted to address climate change against very heavy opposition. Labor brought in the Emissions Trading Scheme, or Carbon Tax as it was called. Labor proved this policy to work. Sadly it was scrapped by a vindictive Coalition government in 2014. Had it not been scrapped, we could be far further ahead with emissions reduction than we are now. Labor has a range of good climate change policies that a realistic and achievable with the added bonus of being likely to exceed its own targets. While we address climate change, we do need to address the transition away from from fossil fuel energy for communities that have relied on mining and coal power as part of their economies.
We need to plan for and attract a diverse range of industries to replace jobs when mines inevitably close. Mining skills can be utilised for the mining of rare earths that we need for renewable energy technology. This could also present opportunities for mining companies to switch away from coal.
More diversity in industry to create more jobs. Labor does have a good policy for decentralising government departments to enable them to be relocated to regional areas to provide more job opportunities. As outlined above, we need to be able to plan for and attract more industries in manufacturing and trades that can also benefit our farmers. We also must fix the state of rural health.
There will be a bit of both. Some people will vote specifically for the candidate ... but there will be others whose votes will be influenced by their opinion of the party leaders and the party policies themselves.
There is definitely an element of disgust with the current government within Calare and a desire to change the government which may provide the drive for people to vote away from it regardless of what they think of any one particular candidate.
That despite my extremely and regrettably late endorsement by the party, people within Calare have come to me and stated they're relieved Labor is running. They wanted Labor as their choice. Reducing the margin can be a small win in itself and sets the possibilities up for the next election.
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