JENNIFER Podesta is putting her money where her mouth is.
The independent candidate for Indi is running a small campaign, but that hasn’t stopped her from pledging to share half of the donations received from fund-raisers with local charities and community groups.
As a passionate campaigner for social issues, the Wodonga woman said it was an obvious decision and was proud to use her profile to promote issues and causes that often go unnoticed.
“I think social issues have not been talked about at all during this campaign ... so I’m happy to use my profile to bring a bit more community awareness to organisations that are doing really good things for young people,” she said.
“I also think the amount of money spent on election campaigns is distasteful when there’s so much more needed out there, so it’s a bit of a statement on that too.”
Ms Podesta is sharing funds with Angels for the Forgotten, a support charity that makes care packs for children in foster care or living in crisis accommodation.
She is also helping a group of young people from ProjectionDANCE — which her husband runs — head out on their first ever tour and make the most of an opportunity to follow their chosen careers.
Earlier this month she joined in with Junction Support Services on the nationwide “Anywhere But a Bed” event to raise awareness of youth homelessness.
“There are big issues with homelessness in this electorate, the average age of homelessness is 14½,” she said.
“And one in four young people are not in school or training, they’re just in limbo.
“We do need to think about ways to move forward ... often the people in the most vulnerable positions don’t have a voice.”
She said she’s “pragmatic” about the likely outcome on September 7, but happy with how her campaign has been going so far.
Ms Podesta has vowed to continue raising social issues well after the election is over.
“We’re still pushing 100 per cent — we have goals of what primary vote we hope to achieve — but we have to be realistic of what we can achieve with a small team and small budget,” she said.
She’s putting in the hard yards to get the message out there, putting in between four and five hours of door-knocking a day.
Ms Podesta was surprised many voters believed unless they followed a how-to-vote card, it wouldn’t count.
She stressed her preferences were “a suggestions only” and every voter is free to choose where their preferences go.
“As long as you number all the boxes then you decide where your vote goes, and no vote is wasted,” she said.