A Vote for Belonging

It’s easy to vote in self-interest, but what might it look like to vote in the interests of those who are marginalised, vulnerable, isolated, or oppressed?

In 10 days, Australians (96% of the eligible voting public) will peacefully exercise their democratic obligation and right to choose their next local member, the next Federal Government and Upper House Representatives. 

Don’t panic. I’m not going to tell you how to vote. The organisation I currently lead, Welcoming Australia, is strictly non-partisan. Even personally, I’m not a member of a political party (not that there’s anything wrong with that, freedom of association is an important right). I am a swing voter, but I have biases like everyone. 

And, if I’m honest, I am in a privileged position. 

I live in a home that we are paying off, a household with 2 incomes, and a family that doesn’t struggle to make ends meet. Our kids may disagree with me, but they do alright. 

It would be easy to vote entirely in self-interest. But my challenge to myself and voting people in my household was to pose the question: what would it look like to vote in the interest of others? 

What would it look like to vote for the future that I want my children to live in? But more than that, what would it look like to vote for: 

  • justice, healing and self-determination for First Peoples?
  • A viable climate future for children and young people and our Asia-Pacific neighbours?
  • An actual safety net for people who are unemployed, unwell, or unable to care for themselves?

It’s easy to vote in self-interest, but what might it look like to vote in the interests of those who are marginalised, vulnerable, isolated, or oppressed?

I would also dare to say the interests of others and ‘the other’ is actually in our self-interest. We do not live in a bubble as much as social media may suggest otherwise. A community that is increasingly cohesive and inclusive is a community that is better for all.

All of us are impacted by climate change.

Our sense of nationhood would undoubtedly benefit from justice, healing and self-determination for First Peoples.

People who come to our shores for a better life being offered visa certainty and pathways for residency and citizenship benefits our communities, neighbourhoods, schools and businesses.

The well-being of my neighbours and young and older people is intrinsically linked with my own.

What might it look like to seek political representation that values belonging for all? As much as possible, that’s where I’ll be directing my vote next Saturday.

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