Community voice raised

THE woman responsible for securing more than 25,000 signatures pushing for a long-term health study into the Hazelwood mine fire, is taking a stab at the Morwell seat in November’s state election.

Morwell Neighbourhood House coordinator Tracie Lund looks to be a likely independent candidate, after submitting her application to grassroots political advocacy group Latrobe Valley 1st.

The group this week called for nominations from people interested in running at the election.

Ms Lund said she was inspired by the Voices for Indi campaign, which successfully pushed out long-time Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella.

“One of the reasons I became interested in the Latrobe Valley 1st group, was some of us had been talking about what we had seen happen in the mine fire and more broadly what was happening on a political front,” Ms Lund said.

“I started to feel there was a better way of doing things. For me there’s that saying, I always thought someone should do something about that, then I realised ‘I’m somebody’.”

Following the group’s series of ‘kitchen table’ conversations with community members, invited to discuss issues affecting the Latrobe Valley region, Ms Lund said she realised the needs of the community were not being represented.

She said many residents were concerned about employment, bringing new industries into the region and the safety of the Hazelwood open-cut mine.

“I think there is room to move in this (political) climate and even if an independent doesn’t get in, the major parties are going to be in a position where they’ll have to consider the community’s needs and changes will need to be made,” Ms Lund said.

The Hunter Valley native and 42 year-old mother of three moved to Traralgon in 2011 when her husband of 20 years took a field tech position with the local CFA.

During the Hazelwood mine fire Ms Lund instigated community information sessions with relevant authorities, established a vacuum cleaner bank to assist people cleaning their homes and a successful petition with more than 25,000 signatures for the Victorian Department of Health long-term health study into the effects of smoke and ash exposure.

“I love the Latrobe Valley and I’m inspired by the Valley’s resilience and community spirit and I believe wholeheartedly that we can grow the Latrobe Valley’s jobs, education and services for better opportunities and outcomes,” Ms Lund said.

She said she would encourage others to apply to the Latrobe Valley 1st nomination for an independent candidate.

“Even if an independent doesn’t get over the line, the major parties are going to have a look at this and changes can be made in a positive direction.”