Continuing in the spirit of Cate Speaks

Laylah Al Saimary
Storm Hellmuth and Colin Mancell
Independents (Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia)


Social Media: FacebookTwitter
Slogans: Community, Unity, Connection
Themes: Practical solutions to Close the Gap
Electorates: Upper House: Northern Metropolitan Region (Mancell), Western Victoria Region (Hellmuth)
Lower House: Melbourne (Al Saimary)
Preferences: Al Samairy’s How to Vote card does not direct preferences. She encourages voters to choose their own. Mancell and Hellmuth do not seem to have How to Vote cards.
Previous Reviews: none

Policies & Commentary

First thing to note here is that the Indigeous-Aboriginal Party of Australia (hereafter referred to as IAPA) are not a registered party for this Victorian election, failing to gain the required numbers. They acknowledge this openly on their website. Because of this, they have thrown their support behind three Indigenous candidates: Colin Mancell in Northern Metro, Storm Hellmuth in Western Victoria, and Layla al Samairy in the Lower House seat of Melbourne.

While IAPA has a policy suite listed on their website, I’m not going to examine it in detail. This is purely because the three endorsed candidates have not stated that they have adopted the suite. Instead, I’ll look at what little information we have on each individual’s policy positions.

Sadly, we have nothing for Colin Mancell other than his identity as a proud Wurundjeri man. There’s little more for Storm Hellmuth, proud Darkinoong man, beyond a commitment to “improve rights for Indigenous Australians.” On his Facebook page, Hellmuth speaks of his desire to make a difference and help everyone I can regardless of beliefs, culture, straight, gay, etc and his passion to help indigenous/koori Mob. We reached out to both candidates, asking if they would like to take the opportunity to detail their policies and positions on major issues in this election. Unfortunately, neither replied.

Al Samairy, on the other hand, has several policies listed on AIPA’s website, so let’s examine those.

First up is education. Al Saimary proposed establishing alternative, Indigenous-controlled schools that would “cater to kids who don’t fit into mainstream schooling.” Her proposed curriculum would feature “health, art, sport, cooking and Indigenous culture as well as reading and writing.” Most of these study areas are already incorporated into school curricula – with the notable exception of Indigenous culture. The major purpose of these schools, though, is to provide opportunities for students who are experiencing school refusal.

Briefly summarised, school refusal may occur for various reasons, including bullying and family breakdown. It often manifests as anxiety and complaints of physical illness, culminating in prolonged absences with often disastrous effects on both social relationships and career or further education opportunities. As al Samairy points out, these students are often ignored, and often end up in the prison system. Her proposed schools would seek to provide a way for students to engage with education. It’s not clear just how this would be accomplished, but the mere fact that she is highlighting this area of need is laudable. We cannot continue to simply shoehorn all students into one restrictive modality, and shrug our shoulders when a significant number of them – mostly from historically marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds – are unable to cope.

In addition to these schools, al Samairy would like to see homework and drop-in centres for Indigenous youth established throughout Victoria. These Indigenous-controlled centres would provide not only a place for young people to go, but also give them access to fresh fruit and help with their homework.

Quite frankly, this is a brilliant idea. It’s well thought-out, supportive in a number of ways, and fills a gaping hole in our support networks. Now, yes, homework clubs and after-school care do already exist in many places, but unless a student is in a well-resourced private school, they don’t amount to much more than kids in a classroom staring at their textbooks or playing games while waiting to be picked up by parents. They don’t provide specialised help, and they don’t have the resources to address the specific needs of disadvantaged groups. What al Samairy is proposing are centres with a purpose, places where young people are made to feel welcome and offered what amounts to after-school tutoring.

Al Samairy’s last policy is a call for the bush to have “the same level of mental health and drug and alcohol rehab services as Melbourne.” I mean, does this even have to be debated? Mental health issues and substance abuse problems don’t stop at the borders of the CBD, but finding help in rural and regional Victoria is terribly hard.

I would love to hear more from al Samairy. The policies we have show mature, sensible, and practical thinking, drawing on her own lived experience as a proud Barkindji woman, and her observations of how her people are needlessly disadvantaged. You hear a lot of parties making motherhood statements about “Closing the Gap”, but here we have concrete policies designed to improve opportunities in the long term, rather than the all-too-common one-off initiatives that we’ve seen from major parties. That al Samairy is only 18 years old makes her stand out even further.

If you’re a voter in the Melbourne electorate, I’d urge you to take a look at al Samairy. She’s an impressive candidate, one of the strongest I’ve yet seen in this election. Certainly, were I eligible to vote in this electorate, she would receive my top preference.

Afterword: I dearly hope that, in future elections, IAPA does get the required numbers it needs to register as a political party in its own right. From my reading of their policies, they may be one of the sanest, most considered voices out there, and god knows we need some sanity in Australian politics.

1 Comment

  1. SJ

    Thank-you so much for tracking down these candidates. I couldn’t find anything on Storm Hellmuth and even this little bit helped.

Leave a Reply

© 2024 Something for Cate

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Discover more from Something for Cate

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading