My name is Benson Saulo. I am currently seeking pre-selection to become the Greens Candidate for the federal seat of Batman (VIC) in the 2016 election.

If you are Greens member in the seat of Batman – you will receive an email on Monday, 3 August 2015 that will enable you to vote for your preferred candidate.

After spending 12 months in 2011 engaging young people in workshops and forums across the country, as the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations, I was dismayed by the countless young people who felt that their voices were not being heard on issues like climate change, mental health and youth homelessness. This dismay turned to frustration as organisations and structures, established to support young people, were defunded and dismantled by successive governments.

A nation’s most valuable resource is its people, but young peoples contributions across the country are disregarded by the Labor and Liberal Parties just as they continue to ignore other issues impacting communities.

For these reasons and more, I seek pre-selection for the seat of Batman in the 2016 federal election.

Growing up in Tamworth, NSW I was surrounded by a strong sense of social justice. From my up-bringing within the Church to stories from my mother and aunties of growing up in pre-1967 Australia when they as Aboriginal people were classed by the Australian Government as ‘fauna and flora’ and not citizens in their own country.

My mother spent most of her formative years living in a tin shed with dirt floors in a paddock on the outskirts of Bordertown, South Australia. She grew up in a time when it was government policy to forcibly remove Aboriginal children from families and place them in state schools and homes. My mother and her seven siblings were fortunate not to be removed. But they have not been immune to the generational impacts these policies have had on communities across Australia.

My father was born on a beach in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea. He fondly recalls leaving school at a very young age to follow his father who was a medical practitioner, around villages across province. My father came to Australia over 30 years ago to follow his calling to become a Minister.

I was fortunate. I had opportunities that my parents could only dream about. I began working at the age of 15 as a bank teller. After graduating high school in 2005, I became a foreign exchange officer, then a business banking manager and finally a business analyst at the age of 22.

In 2011 my life changed. I was appointed the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. I represented Australian young people at a national and international level. In this role I raised over $30,000 to support my national engagement tour which enabled me to reach over 6,000 people through face-to-face workshops, events and consultations and a further 21,000 people through online tools and social media.

Following the national tour, I was based in New York with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade representing Australian Youth at the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I led negotiations on behalf of the Australian Government on the Rights of the Child with a focus on children with disabilities, and on addressing the impacts of the social and economic crisis on young people.

Australian politics is now moving even further away from a long-term and collaborative approach towards a more brutish, short-sighted arm wrestle between two parties that no longer represent the changing electorate. This is evident in the government’s dwindling foreign aid budget, opposition to same-sex marriage, and constant undermining of renewable energy in favour of their fossil-fuel infatuation.

I believe that the Australian Greens can cut through this haze of bitter politics to provide a strong vision for a more equal, just and democratic Australian society. A society mature enough to share with less fortunate Australians, with those who flee cruelty abroad, and with those who will come after us.

We stand at a critical moment in our nations history. I am standing for pre-selection and saying ‘lets make history, together’. The Greens have never held two federal lower house seats, in 2016 we can achieve this together.

There has never been a Victorian Aboriginal person elected to the State or Commonwealth government, with your support we can be the party to make this happen.

As a Greens candidate, I will continue to uphold the values of social justice, democracy, peace and respect for our environment. And I will continue to grow and strengthen the party, the electorate of Batman and our impact in communities across Australia.

If you are a Greens member in the seat of Batman, you will receive an email on Monday, 3 August 2015 that will enable you to vote for a candidate for pre-selection. If you are a member but do not receive an email please contact the greens state office by emailing: office@vic.greens.org.au

If you have any inquiries, or would like to pass on a message – contact me