Aboriginal activist heads socialist ticket for NSW election

Issue 
Sharlene Leroy-Dyer: 'Neither a Labor nor a Liberal-National government can meet the needs of the community.'

Sharlene Leroy-Dyer is an Aboriginal woman who is standing for the Socialist Alliance for the Legislative Council in the March NSW state election. Green Left Weekly's Pip Hinman spoke to her about her interests and why she is standing.

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Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, an Aboriginal woman and descendant of the Wiradjuri and Dharug peoples of NSW, is heading the team for the Socialist Alliance ticket in the legislative council in the NSW state elections.

“I’m standing because neither a Labor nor a Liberal-National government can meet the needs of the community", Leroy-Dyer said.

Leroy-Dyer is “a staunch unionist, having been in various unions since I joined the workforce more than 35 years ago”. She is active in a range of campaigns while she completes her PhD in management at the University of Newcastle.

Besides being active with many communities, she has found the time to get a Bachelor of Business (Hons) from the University of Newcastle and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Melbourne. She is also a full-time staff member at The Wollokua Institute at the University of Newcastle.

Leroy-Dyer is also the Aboriginal committee member of the Newcastle branch of the National Tertiary Education Union and the current deputy chair of the NTEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee.

“I’ve been a student advocate and representative at University of Newcastle for the past 10 years, serving on the executive of the Newcastle University Postgraduate Student Association and the Newcastle University Student Association as welfare officer, postgraduate representative, equity officer, Indigenous officer, vice president and president.

“I’m also active in various campus campaigns, and am the postgraduate representative on the Academic Senate and the Research committee of the University of Newcastle.

“I am the National Indigenous Postgraduate Association Aboriginal Corporation Liaison Officer to the Council of Australian Postgraduates Association.”

Leroy-Dyer, like other Indigenous students, was unhappy with the recent National Union of Students conference, which decided to withdraw funding from Indigenous office bearer positions, among others.

She has joined Blacademy, a national collective of Indigenous students. It is campaigning for student organisations to disaffiliate from NUS because, they say, it has become so removed from students’ interests and so unaccountable that it is no longer really representative.

“I am passionate about Aboriginal issues and education and was able to address these in the context of the Abbott government’s budget cuts at the Newcastle March in August last year”, Leroy-Dyer said.

“I also spoke out against the cuts in my address to the Senate enquiry into the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014.

Leroy-Dyer is joined by 15 other candidates on the Socialist Alliance ticket in the legislative council.

They include Nicole McGregor, an anti-coal and coal seam gas activist and farmer from Stroud (near Gloucester); Margaret Allen, a mental health worker from Western Sydney, Paul Benedek, an activist against WestConnex and who works in Aboriginal health education; Mia Sanders, a second year arts student and student councillor at UWS Bankstown; Coral Wynter, a retired biochemist and solidarity activist; John Coleman, a life-long rail worker and unionist; Howard Byrnes, a state councillor and member of the Committee of Management of the NSW branch of the CFMEU and Greg McFarlane, an animal rights and vegan activist.

Check here to see all 16 candidates and the Socialist Alliance’s platform for the NSW elections
Email nsw@socialist-alliance.org if you can help out by distributing material and financially.

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