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Mary Doyle MP embodies the passion and drive of a great politician. She has worked hard for her position as a Federal Member for Aston, coming into the role through a by-election election in 2023. Her determination and courage, despite the hardships life has thrown at her, should inspire women everywhere. Her rise into office offers guidance to young women seeking to pursue politics; taking unconventional routes to reach where she is today. Having backgrounds in multiple different Unions has allowed Mary to build an incredible skill base supporting her in her job as a Minister. 

Q1.

Could you tell me about your job and your day-to-day responsibilities?

It’s always different every day. When I’m in the electorate, my day is going out and meeting different organisations (e.g. sporting clubs) and listening to their concerns about safety issues, funding for projects and potential sponsorships as well. I especially meet with community groups doing charity work (e.g., homelessness and domestic violence aid). I recently attended the Knox Police Community Forum, where I helped answer questions and discussed safety concerns. I also meet with constituents via phone or appointment to help with concerns such as visa issues, NDIS, or anything that’s considered a federal issue.

 

My day also includes meeting with schools and other educational institutions. I visit aged care and retirement villages. Another big part of my duties is meeting with the council regularly, exchanging ideas and issues other members have brought up. My council and electorate, The Knox Council and Aston electorate, actually line up; which is quite rare for an MP to have. Some MPs may have to manage several councils within their federal electorate. Having the same jurisdiction makes it more exciting. I, of course, also travel up to Canberra to sit in parliament, which I did just recently for the federal budget. 

Q2.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role? 

I have only been in this role for 13 months; however, getting out and meeting constituents is the most rewarding aspect of my role. I really enjoy listening to them and learning about them and their lives. I love talking to people, it’s easily the best part of the job. I used to have a similar job in a union where that was the case, and I loved listening to people's experiences there as well. I enjoy getting to know people and finding a way to help people when they come to me with their problems. I try my best to help people; if they feel like I’ve helped them, then that’s a win.

Q3.

What advice would you give young women in university at the start of their careers?

I didn’t ever expect myself to go into politics. It didn’t occur to me at all until only 3 years ago; I never thought I would do that myself. But I watched a show about Julia Gillard on SBS, about all her bad experiences being a minister and the sexism she faced. Ultimately, she still said she would encourage women to run for office. I thought, “Wow! After everything she experienced, she would still encourage women to put their hand up and run for office.” And that really inspired me! At the start of 2021, when misbehaving male politicians were causing nonsense in Canberra; I thought, “Yeah! We need more women in politics, maybe I will put up my hand”. However, I began to doubt: “I don’t think I have the credentials, I don’t think I have what it takes, I don’t think I’m educated enough”. I had left school quiet, and I didn’t go to university. I guess I didn’t think I was of that calibre; I didn’t have confidence in myself. Then I watched that documentary on SBS of Julia Gillard, and I said, “Stuff it! Why not! Why don’t I put my hand up! You can do it!”.

 

I don’t think women have enough self-confidence, and it’s a real shame. There are so many mediocre men who get elected, but we have so much lived experience; we have so much more going for us than we give ourselves credit for. I would encourage every young woman, regardless of education or socioeconomic status, to put their hand up. Have more confidence in yourself.

 

I also did the Pathways to Politics course at the University of Melbourne in 2021, and that was very significant for me. It’s a wonderful course to do, as it helped guide me. It also allowed me to meet some really amazing women. I thought there was no point in applying as it was only for women who have degrees and that I wouldn’t even accepted. Nevertheless, I did get accepted, and I loved doing it.

Q4.

What is one change that you would like to see for women in your field? 

There have been a lot of changes already, and it’s fantastic to see, but there is still room for more. I think we do need to be more vocal and speak up when we see things that are not okay. Sometimes, we let ‘things go through to the keeper’ and we shouldn’t. Even me, sometimes I think, “I should have spoken up, I shouldn’t have let that one go”. I think this happens because we don’t want to make waves. We see other women who have spoken up and been vocal, and they’ve been sidelined, even bullied out of parliament. It’s not okay. However, we don’t want it to happen to ourselves. Sometimes, we don’t feel like we have the support. This is still very much the culture, and it needs to change.

Q5.

Your pathway to politics was quite unique, what made you choose to pursue politics? And do you have any role models of your own?

My role model would be Joan Kirner. I met her by chance in 1996 when I was 26. I went to a restaurant with my late sister and her friends, and Joan Kirner, the former Premier at the time, was having lunch at the next table. At our table, there were about 10 of us, and we were all very excited to see her. After Joan Kirner’s lunch guest left; she came and sat with us! She must have sensed we were talking about her; we were all beside ourselves.

 

She began asking us why we were all meeting up, and my sister and her friends explained. She continued to ask what we were doing with our lives; at the time, I was between casual jobs. I told her I had always admired her and that my mum was also a big fan. She just took a genuine interest in all of us, this random group of young women. I couldn’t help but think, “Aren’t you just wonderful!”

This occurred around the time when she was starting up Emily’s List; she began discussing with us about it, and how she was bringing it across from the US. I have never forgotten this interaction, it was an amazing historical moment! It is truly a wonderful memory. Now, I am a member of Emily’s list, and I’ve been a member for years! In my first speech in Parliament in May 2023, I even wore an Emily’s List Badge. It is quite amazing that she had told me about it in 1996. Fast-forward to 2023; I am in parliament, wearing the badge.

14.06.2024

If you have any questions for Mary Doyle, please:

1. Leave a comment under our Woman of the Week FB post, or

2. Email us at wcp.unimelb@gmail.com

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