You probably know Yvonne Keane as a Hills District Mum and the Deputy Mayor of the Hills Shire Council – we first met her this time last year. She lives in Kellyville, in a house she built with her own hands, with her husband Anthony and her two beautiful children, Asher and Saskia. She has enjoyed a successful career as a television presenter, where she was known as the Pocket Rocket, and is now an advocate for disability services and social enterprises. Yvonne serves on the Board of the Endeavour Foundation, is a member of the NSW Council for Women’s Economic Opportunity and is also the Chair of the Board of The Sanctuary, a newly opened shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence in The Hills.
What you might not know is that with her bid to be elected as the new Federal Member for Greenway, she may just become our very first Hills District Mum to enter Parliament! So we sat down with her to find out what motivated her to take this leap and to discover what she stands for…
Are you mad? Why are you running for Government?
LOL! Maybe I am a little mad? Deep down it’s always been an unspoken dream of mine to be a Member of Parliament, however I never imagined that I’d have this wonderful opportunity. Every time I come to vote in an election, I look for a candidate with real life experience who will listen to me and respect me, who will fight to deliver extraordinary things for my community, who has a strong sense of humanity and who has an intimate understanding of the real problems facing everyday Australians like you and me.
Life is not always neat and tidy and sometimes the solutions are not easy. So I look for a person I can trust and who I can count on to make the very best decisions. I also want someone who will keep fighting for what’s right, even when it’s super tough.
So, I’ve decided to ‘walk the talk’ and put my hand up in the hope that, for the people of Greenway, I just might be the person that they trust to fight for them.
How did you get involved in politics?
Well, that’s an interesting question. If you told me 8 years ago that I would be in the Liberal Party and I’d be running for Parliament, I’d have said you were completely bonkers! To be honest I hadn’t given much real thought to politics throughout life. That changed 7 years ago though, when I was 39, with the birth of my son Asher.
Not long after he was born, he was diagnosed with a disability. Our world changed in an instant and he has since taken us on the most wonderful and life-changing journey. When he was only a few months old I started an early intervention centre, along with a few other incredible mums, called Hear the Children, to teach deaf children to speak as clearly and perfectly as every other child their age. The results this centre achieves are stunning. My son now attends a mainstream school in Riverstone, speaking beautifully and his impairment will never be a handicap to him in his life. The great thing is that his story is no different from any other child who attends Hear the Children.
Along the way government policy around supporting and protecting the vulnerable became super important to me. After some careful research, I discovered that I was inherently aligned with the ethos and policies of the Liberal Party. This came as quite a shock to me at the time as, even though I’d never really thought about politics before, I had always just voted Labor like my parents had. My poor Dad still hasn’t recovered from the scandal of having a daughter in the Liberal Party! *wink wink*
Quite unexpectedly, I received several awards for my work with Hear the Children, including 2012 NSW Woman of the Year (Inaugural People’s Choice) and a 2013 University of Western Sydney Women of the West Award. So, I thought maybe I should put up my hand for Local Government and see if I could help make more of a difference in our local community. And now, a few years later, here I am making a run for Federal Parliament. It’s been quite a ride!
What makes you different from other candidates?
I am a mum, first and foremost. I understand how difficult it can be to balance the household books and what sacrifices are made in the struggle to make ends meet. I also know what it’s like to fight for a child who has a special need.
Plus, I seem to have an uncanny ability to create new services and deliver incredible outcomes for the most vulnerable in our community – whether that be for children with a disability or women and children escaping domestic violence. I know what it’s like to build something much-needed and missing in the community from the ground up, how to make it successful and sustainable (even without government funding) and how to ensure it delivers the best outcomes for those in need. These are skills, along with warmth, empathy and humanity, that I believe are vitally important in government, and with which I hope to bring enormous benefit to Greenway.
I truly believe that only through stronger families and stronger communities can we achieve a better future. And I’ve shown that I’m more than prepared to roll up my sleeves and do the hard and often unglamorous work to achieve a better future for us all.
Tell us what you love about Greenway and what is important to you?
I was raised in Toongabbie and have spent most of my life in and around Blacktown, Seven Hills and Kings Langley. Greenway is where I developed my tenacious fighting spirit, and the ability to dream, believe and do. My father always says that you can take the girl out of Toongabbie, but you can’t take the Toongabbie out of the girl!
The people in Greenway are hard-working, honest and aspirational. They are you and me. They strive to achieve a better future for their children and their children’s children. I love that the area, ever since I was a child, has always comprised of a richly diverse cultural mix of people from all walks of life. It is a real melting pot of ideas, experiences and unlimited potential. I honestly think that you can change the world from Greenway.
What’s important to me is that I’m able to keep striving for better outcomes for our most vulnerable, for our families and for our community. That I can play a part in securing a great future for us all. It’s my great hope that, on July 2, the electors in Greenway will choose me to work for them in government to achieve their vision of a better future.
What would you say to other mums who want to get involved in politics?
Hmmm… Firstly, I would say “Welcome! We need more of you!”. We need good people on both sides of politics for this thing we call a democracy to work at optimum. I believe that mums inherently have a brilliant balance of skills that, from my perspective, bring great value to government.
Secondly, I would stress the importance of having a great support system. My husband, Anthony, is an absolute Saint and I couldn’t do this without the unwavering support he provides me. Whether it be a spouse, a close friend, or a family member, you are going to need someone that you can count on, no matter what.
Thirdly, it’s important to know what you stand for, where you have come from and where you’d like to go. This is your unique ‘platform’ and you should embrace it and don’t be self-conscious about clearly articulating it.
Finally, I would tell you that hard work is absolutely crucial, but you should also know that there will be an element of timing and luck involved. So work hard and be poised and ready to jump when the opportunity arises – and good luck! Go mums!
Yvonne is running as the Liberal Candidate for the seat of Greenway in the upcoming Federal Election on July 2. The Electorate of Greenway includes Girraween, Acacia Gardens, Glenwood, Kellyville Ridge, The Ponds, Stanhope Gardens, Seven Hills, Parklea, Kings Langley, Kings Park, Lalor Park, Prospect, and parts of Quaker’s Hill, Pendle Hill, Rouse Hill, Vineyard, Riverstone, Schofields and Blacktown and Toongabbie.
If you would like to learn more, or maybe even help Yvonne with her campaign, please contact her on 0431 181 311 or email her at Greenway@nswliberal.org.au. Follow her progress on Facebook at Keane4Greenway.
Authorised by Chris Stone, Liberal Party of Australia – NSW Division. Level 12, 100 William St, East Sydney NSW 2011.
This is a sponsored article. Hills District Mums does not have any political affiliations.