By Colin MacGillivray
WITH longstanding Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green set to step down at this year’s Victorian election, Lauren Kathage will run as Labor’s new candidate in the electorate.
Yan Yean has been held continuously by Labor since its inception in 1992, with Andre Haermeyer representing the district until 2002, when Ms Green was first elected.
Ms Kathage, pictured right with Ms Green, hopes to continue that trend at November’s election.
She said she would bring a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to the role while continuing the work of Ms Green, whom she described as a role model.
She said community infrastructure such as roads, hospitals and public transport would be her biggest priorities if elected.
“We’ve got some growing pains that the government has done a great job tackling, like the work on Plenty and Yan Yean roads and the Mernda rail extension that was championed by Danielle,” she said.
“But the job’s not done yet, and I want to make sure that our community has equal access to decent transport options like North East Link, jobs, quality education and healthcare.
“A particular focus will be making sure that the new community hospital delivers what’s needed for local families. I know what it’s like to have a sick child in the middle of the night, and I’m committed to making sure the community has top quality care right here.”
Ms Kathage was born in South Australia and grew up in Queensland, eventually working in the Northern Territory before moving to Victoria more than a decade ago with husband Garreth, who was born in the Whittlesea region and attended Whittlesea Secondary College.
She spent more than 15 years as a community worker in Australia and internationally, leading small housing and homelessness projects. She has also managed multimillion-dollar programs to train healthcare workers, improve income generation opportunities for regional communities and boost the school attendance rates of children with disabilities.
She said her experiences led to her joining politics at a grassroots level as a member, and eventually president, of the Yan Yean Labor branch.
“I joined Labor because of my experience working with people who are cut off from access to good health and education services and who worry about earning enough money to support their families,” she said.
“Labor gets it. Labor’s focus is on making sure everyone, no matter their postcode, has a decent job, with good education for their kids and quality healthcare.”
Ms Kathage paid homage to Ms Green’s work as a local member and said she would be proud to be given an opportunity to continue it.
“Danielle’s retirement after a stellar 20 years has left big shoes to fill,” she said.
“Her achievements are what have made our towns a community. She has worked so hard for our communities and we have all benefited from her fierce advocacy.
“I have definitely learnt from Danielle’s success in bringing better services to our area and will work hard to ensure that Labor continues to deliver for us.”
Ms Kathage said she would do her best to represent all Yan Yean residents.
“An effective local member listens to community and then acts. You can’t have just one,” she said.
“People want an MP that they can talk to – who cares about community members and is approachable. And who then goes out and gets things done.
“I think I’ve got that right mix of head and heart – a community focus, with experience delivering projects that improve people’s lives. I will leave no stone unturned to come to a satisfactory outcome for community.”