Going Green with Will Simon | Grace Alumni

News - July 09, 2021

Fresh-faced alumni Will Simon may not look like your regular politician, but this recent graduate is as eager as any to make a change in his community. 

Will was only 18 years old when he was nominated as his local Greens candidate, making him the youngest representative running in his local election. With youth increasingly encouraged to take part in politics, Will was determined to show that his voice can have just as big an impact as others, and encourage other young people to take a stand on issues that matter to them.

I felt as though I had no political ‘home’, per se, in either of the major parties for the issues I cared about. Those including inequality, injustice, the environment and countless more.

With the threat of a Greens candidate pushing on issues such as the environment, overdevelopment and the increasing power of corporations over our politics, [I believe] it can in turn move our elected politicians in the right direction on these policies.

During his time at Grace, this recent graduate was an unsurprising avid contributor in community activities and fundraising. When asked if this played a part in his political drive, Will had this to say:

Grace gave me many opportunities to play a role in the community and that was one of the best things of being a student there. There are constantly opportunities to raise your hand to join in a community project, help out fundraising and supporting your peers. I definitely applaud the College for teaching their students – including myself – that we can be agents for change in our communities.

One of my more favourite memories was the Seabrae Volunteer Art Project, it was quite the learning experience and I have appreciated those moments ever since I have left high-school. But in other ways too, I was the Debating Captain for a year, participated in the Mooting competitions and Model United Nations, all of these contributed to who I am now. 

For his classmates, especially as recent graduates and new voters themselves, Will’s move onto the political stage was met with a variety of responses.

Some were shocked,some others weren’t surprised whatsoever. I think, even while at school, I was very political. For those that knew me best, I would even sometimes joke about running for Parliament, something that I was joking about myself – but here we are.

The response from my friends and people I know from school was very positive, many of them messaged me and reached out to see if they could help in the campaign. I appreciated all of the kind words sent my way...

Like many of his peers, Will also spent his time post-Grace making the transition into tertiary learning. In balancing his studies, political and social life, this University student took the task head on. 

This year (2020) I am studying at the University of Queensland, and I am doing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science and International Relations and a Bachelor of Communications. It was particularly difficult to manage both studying full-time and running for Queensland State Parliament, but I organised myself well enough to get through it!

For Will (and many other politically inclined young people), their youth and enthusiasm can be a valuable tool for creating change. However, it can also be a challenge when attempting to grab a foothold on the political stage.

There is an inherent disadvantage against young people running for public positions because unlike other candidates who may already be an MP, or who have retired, or who have the financial backing to pause their life to run, we don’t really have that luxury. I try my best to balance the two, but when a deadline is coming up for an assignment that always beats out the opportunity to go letterboxing!

Yet despite the challenges, this young leader has a lot he wants to see accomplished.

Some of [my concerns] include free childcare and TAFE (I would say university too, but that isn’t a State Government issue), ending the overdevelopment of suburbs in Redcliffe, including Woody Point. Also, investment in renewable energy that can bring manufacturing back to Queensland and move our state towards reaching our goal of being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2030.

One issue that I am especially passionate about is the influence of dirty money in politics, specifically corporate money. I believe that big corporations, the banks and the mining billionaires have too much influence over our Parliament and they should be banned from contributing the election campaigns of any candidate or party. On some more local issues, I also want to see the parking fees at the new Redcliffe hospital carpark scrapped and for the Queensland Government to finally build the barge on the Peninsula, as private industry has refused to invest in it.

With Australia’s political climate clouded with many key issues, youth are increasingly encouraged to make their voices heard. As a role model for many others, Will has a few pointers for students and new graduates looking to get started in politics. 

Get involved, is a short answer. Politics as we know it now is only the way it is because we are not involved in it as young people. The more of us who get turned away from politics is not to the advantage of us, instead it is to the advantage of everything we hate in politics right now!

I find the best way to start is to get engaged with local groups that campaign on issues that matter to you. Use every opportunity to directly pressure your elected representatives. They won’t bother listening to us either if they can bank on the voters who they know will turn up on election day – disproportionately older people, and they will always vote.

This is surely not the last we will hear from this aspiring young leader, nor those who follow in his footsteps. To learn more about our Grace Alumni, our International Partnerships, or the Grace Student Leadership program, explore the Grace Website.  

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