By CASEY NEILL
NOBLE Park’s Nina Springle is determined to be a truly representative voice for the south-east in state parliament.
Last November the 41-year-old single mother was among five South-Eastern Metropolitan Region representatives who were elected to the Legislative Council.
During her inaugural speech on 10 February, Ms Springle told the upper house that she was “from working class stock”.
“It was not that long ago that, as a single parent, I struggled to buy milk for my children at the end of the fortnight,” she said.
“I know what it is like to live hand to mouth, to take food stamps to get through to the next Centrelink payment and to not know how you will pay the next month’s rent.”
Ms Springle was involved in student politics when studying a masters degree in international and community development but aligned with The Greens and decided to run for office in 2010.
“I had put off joining a political party for a long time because I valued my independence but realised it was very hard to run without the backing of a party,” she said.
She told the Journal that providing a voice for the region was her biggest motivator.
“We have quite a number of really safe seats in the lower house in this region,” she said.
“With that comes a little bit of complacency from the elected representatives, because they don’t really need to do very much to get re-elected.
“I think it’s really important that people out in the outer suburbs have a voice that they can actually tangibly grasp onto.”
Ms Springle was “in shock” when she found out she’d been successful in her bid, two and a half weeks after election day and following “the recount of the recount”.
She’s been named The Greens spokeswoman for children and families, women, family violence prevention and multicultural affairs.
The mother of a son, 14, and daughter, 15, has experience in all portfolios.
She moved to Noble Park in 2009 to look after her grandfather.
“My grandparents had built the house that I now live in when they migrated over from Europe after the Second World War,” she said.
She managed Noble Park Community Centre for three years from 2009, her legacy including a pilot project to address disaffected Sudanese youth congregating in public spaces.
“We also did some work around developing some initiatives for family violence,” she said.
Ms Springle has a bachelor of arts in literature and worked overseas as a writer and with publishing companies, including five years in Africa.
“My children are half-African and I had met their father there while I was travelling,” she said.
She told parliament that Azahn and Rukaya were “multiculturalism personified, with your Anglo-European and African-Arab heritage”.
Her time in Africa strengthened a resolve to improve life for women that stemmed from watching her grandmothers struggle against societal oppression.
“My life purpose became the quest for equality for all,” she said.
In parliament Ms Springle revealed that she, like one in four Victorian women, had had an abortion.
“Let us tackle head on the most significant justice issue of our time,” she said.
“This is not just an issue of reproductive rights but one of self-determination.
“A woman’s power to make decisions affecting her own body is fundamental to her identity and to her freedom.”
She told the Journal that her top political priorities included ensuring the Family Violence Royal Commission recommendations were implemented and assisting community services.
The South-Eastern Metropolitan Region covers 11 electorates that are “so diverse”.
“We’ll be doing a lot of community consultation over the next six months to really try and get a grasp on what the issues are for people out here and what we can tangibly do to advocate for some positive change,” Ms Springle said.
“It’s early days.”