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What Makes Me Happy

 

Personal: Acknowledging that ‘making a difference’ through political activism, is what consistently makes me happy doesn’t deny my pleasures in motherhood and cooking. I get a long term buzz from being a political activist. From student politics in the fifties when we took over another group, through seventies feminism and broader political activism, there were many rushes of pleasure that came from my being responsible for making social changes.

 

Acknowledging that ‘making a difference’ through political activism, is what consistently makes me happy doesn’t deny my pleasures in motherhood and cooking. I get a long term buzz from being a political activist. From student politics in the fifties when we took over another group, through seventies feminism and broader political activism, there were many rushes of pleasure that came from my being responsible for making social changes.  

Never one to limit my vision, I have been involved in saving historic buildings, setting up the first after school care service and its policies, writing an early Federal child care program, running many campaigns through a major welfare lobby group, fixing unfairness to immigrant women and more projects than I can remember.

There are some moments that stand out, where the rush of pleasure becomes the after taste of excitement: the first Women’s Electoral Lobby conference in January 1973 where I was one of 400 women planning how to influence the incoming Whitlam Government; the pleasure of getting my child care policy through the 1982 ALP Conference, with tactical left and right women’s support; the joy of delivering the 1995 ABC radio’s Boyer Lectures, when I had six uninterrupted half hour slots to tell an audience how we could make Australia a Truly Civil Society. That gave me lots of good feedback but the last decade seem to make us less rather than more civil but I am still seeking the buzz of a political junkie!

Why do I do it? My father used to embarrass me and adolescent friends by asking what we had done to save the world that day, so maybe it’s genetic to feel that if something is wrong, I should try to fix it. Working for community groups, politicians and even government departments meant I could actually do the difference making and see what happened. Not too surprisingly, my successes did not build into a long career at the top as successful change agents tend to offend those in power.

 (to be continued)