2022 SEARCH Committee Elections - Candidate Bios

At the close of the period for the withdrawal of nominations in the 2022 SEARCH Committee election, there were the same number of nominations as there were positions to be filled, and therefore there was no ballot required. Under the SEARCH election rules, candidate bios are to made available to members. Usually candidate bios would be sent to members and made available in the postal and online voting papers/website, however with no ballot required, this post provides those bios, in alphabetical order, and with a photo as it was supplied by candidates. 

Brian Aarons - Committee Member (NSW)

I was the founding President of the SEARCH Foundation and am a current Committee member. In the past two years, I have been active in the SEARCH Voice Treaty Truth Working Group, in the Communications Sub-Committee, the Climate Action Working Group, and around several other aspects of the Foundation’s work. I will continue to be involved in such work, including the National Members Forum that is being planned for mid 2023.

 

Matt Byrne - Committee Member (ACT/Belgium)

Australia and the world are confronting the crises of climate catastrophe, crippling inequality and the rise of anti-democratic and reactionary forces. The left must find solutions to overcoming these challenges whilst acknowledging our differences in thought and strategy. I believe this goal is at the heart of SEARCH’s purpose.

I am standing for the Committee to help SEARCH educate a new generation of socialists, build solidarity across the left and promote activism in campaigns for economic, social and ecological justice.

I support the tremendous work of the Committee to renew SEARCH and solidify its financial base, and I wish to contribute to help turn that renewal into external action.

I have been a socialist activist since 2004 and a SEARCH member for almost ten years. My first experience was attending a fantastic InspirActivism weekend in Canberra in 2008, and I attended the National Members Forum in 2017. I spent eleven years working in the ALP, including as ACT Secretary for five years. As Secretary, I championed member democracy, participation and growth which saw membership double, and the party adopt a new direct-election model for preselecting candidates.

I want to use my skills and experience to help SEARCH grow and make an impact on Australian left and progressive movements.

I current live temporarily in Belgium where I have worked for the International Trade Union Confederation on campaigns and trade-union training. While overseas, I commit to attending Committee meetings online and to participate in working groups, sub-committees and other SEARCH work regardless of time zone.

 

Louise Connor - Committe Member (Victoria)

I have been a member of Search since it was established and, previously, a CPA member since the mid-seventies. I have been a member of the Search Committee on several occasions and have assisted with a number of Search education activities and campaigns over the years. I’m currently a committee member and a member of the Finance committee, the VTT working group and another working group for a national members meeting for 2023. I also assisted with Search’s successful national forum last year for the CPA’s 100th anniversary.

I would like to assist Search’s activities in Melbourne, particularly in motivating our members to be more active in the campaign for an Indigenous Voice to parliament and, following that, with treaty and truth–telling; taking up the challenge so generously requested of us by the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

My major work has been in the union movement over many years, after commencing my activism in the environment and women’s movements. I was Victorian Secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance from 2004 to 2014.

I am currently the treasurer and a board member of the New International Bookshop, based at the VTHC that works with Search on book launches and discussions. We played a major role in promoting and selling Comrades and The Party and I have other ideas on how we can collaborate to promote left writing, discussion and action.

 

 

Elliot D'Arcy - Committee Member (Qld)

Hey, I’m Elliot, and I’ve recently accepted a nomination to run as a SEARCH committee member.


I am currently a trade union organiser with the Queensland branch of the RTBU. I also considermyself a refugee activist, putting together the Unions for Refugees group during the blockade ofthe Kangaroo Point hotel. Further to this, I have been steeped in socialist values, and have startedseveral reading groups and organised events to teach people about our great cause.


As a trade unionist I believe that the only way to seriously challenge capital is through a united andorganised working class, with strong socialist values.
As a committee member for SEARCH I hope to contribute by growing visibility and accessibilityto left wing ideas through education programs, events and direct community engagement.


We are better when we work together, and I hope I can win your support in my mission for abigger, stronger, more active and united Australian left through SEARCH.

 

Iacovos Digenis - Committee Member (South Australia)

My name is Iacovos and I am delighted to be renominated for the SEARCH Committee. I am a proud democratic socialist and activist from Adelaide.

I am the convener of Young Labor Left SA and have strong links and friendships in other left wing parties and movements.

The majority of my activism outside of Labor has been in the student movement.  My term as the Adelaide University Union President in 2018 was a formative experience. It gave me a political education which eclipsed my formal study and confirmed for me the importance of independent and authentic mass movements as the main drivers of change in society.

As President, I also received training and gained experience as a board director of the Union for 2 years. These skills make me a diligent and effective Committee member.

I am also very proud of my work as Labor Environment Action Network SA's Secretary from 2015 to 2017, and the campaign experience and perspective that has afforded me.

I seek reelection as an active Committee Member, dedicated to ensuring SEARCH remains relevant and financially secure. I have convened meetings in Adelaide, secured funding for oral history research at UniSA, organised SEARCH-led youth enrolment drives, and helped facilitate a monthly reading group. I hope to strengthen and grow these projects with another term.

We need a space where young socialists can come together, learn and organise, and I believe SEARCH is that space.

I am standing with the SEARCH Unity Team.

 

 

Adam Farrar - Honorary Treasurer (NSW)

I have a long-standing commitment to SEARCH, having been a member since its inception. Before that I was a member of the CPA.

I am standing as Treasurer, having been temporarily appointed to the role following the death of the then Treasurer, Helen Hewett.  While it was a challenge to step into the place of a person with the huge experience and energy of Helen, I feel that it is important to now follow through with the work that has begun.

I had previously been a member of the SEARCH Finance and Investment Committee and was SEARCH Hon Treasurer for a number of years earlier in SEARCH’s existence.

My own background has mainly spent in the community sector, principally in policy advocacy and implementation.  I worked at Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) in a number of roles, including Head of its Urban and Regional Development Unit and Policy Head of its Future of Work Program.  I was also Deputy Director of the NSW Council of Social Service.  Most of my career has focussed on housing policy and advocacy, including 10 years as CEO of the industry body for a community housing provider in NSW and Principal Policy Officer for Shelter NSW. I have been Chair of both Shelter NSW and National Shelter and also Deputy President of NCOSS.

I believe that at this critical moment in history we need wide awareness and discussion of radical understandings and radical solutions to our environmental, social, economic and political circumstances.  And I think SEARCH can play an important role in promoting this. And at the same time, it is part of our role to directly support some of the most important struggles of the day – such as the campaign for the Voice and the vision of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

 

Zac Gillies-Palmer - Committee Member (NSW)

 

Patricia Hovey - Committee Member (Queensland)

 

 I am a current Committee member and convenor of the Communications Sub-Committee and a longstanding SEARCH and CPA member. My political and community activity includes:

  • Initiating or assisting in the running of several Brisbane SEARCH events since 2017.
  • Currently organising an education day for Brisbane members and activists.
  • Active involvement in Vintage Reds Retired Unionists and the Brisbane Combined Unions Choir, serving on the management committees of both organisations.

The pandemic interrupted the work we started in 2017, implementing the results of the 2017 SEARCH review and National Members Forum. We need to regain that momentum. Members were very clear about the role they wanted – linking and enabling activists and other progressive organisations to promote democratic, ecological socialism. People joined SEARCH as a result of our zoom events on relevant topics presented by committed and knowledge speakers.  Our education program also attracted young activists and publications, primarily SEARCH news, have been well received. 

The National Members Forum in 2023 will be an important event to address the challenges and opportunities presented by a Labor government. I am involved in the planning by the NMF Working Group.  I am also a member of the Voice Treaty Truth Working Group, working to support the referendum on a First Nations Voice to parliament enshrined in the constitution.

If re-elected I will continue to make a contribution to SEARCH activities in Brisbane, on the Search Committee, sub-committees and working groups.

 

 

Matt Kunkel - President (Victoria)

Since joining the committee in 2014, it has been my privilege to work alongside so many strong and diverse socialists to help build SEARCH. I am enthusiastic about continuing this work alongside all of you, to further develop and enact our shared vision for a society that puts people and planet above profit.

SEARCH’s work to link, enable and lead left activists, of all persuasions towards a broad, united front against capitalism, has never been more important.

It is also the great depth of experience within our membership that is now called upon. Echoes of the struggles of the 1960s ring out once again. We must rally for our First Nation’s comrades, against war and to overcome a rapacious economic system seeking to doom our children and grandchildren. Time is short. Only by uniting activists across the industrial, environmental and other social movements can we realise our goals. This must be the work of SEARCH in the coming years.

COVID laid bare the failures of neoliberalism for all to see. We need public health and welfare systems that genuinely support everyone to live with dignity. We need Industrial relations reforms that empower the organised working class to strike their way towards greener, more secure jobs and a fairer society.

We must seize upon the shift in Canberra and build consensus for real change - not from the top down but the bottom up. 

I am a former union organiser with 15 years’ experience and currently lead the Migrant Workers Centre.

 

Cat Kutay - Commitee Member (Northern Territory)

I am a long-time member of SEARCH and CPA, and activist in Land Rights, Deaths in Custody and Women’s Refuge movements, as well as against student fees. I have worked in Public Radio for many years and now work on the internet.

I am committed to promoting the voices of people who support progressive issues, and have the skills to provide evidence and solutions. Hence, I work in IT, provide websites for other activists and train people to use web resources, fighting both hacking and mis-information on the internet.

Software developers in open source such as Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes show there are many people willing to contribute to the free dissemination of verified information

I work at Charles Darwin University, so I plan to be a remote Committee member. However the issues across Northern Australia where I work are critical to all of Australia - closing Don Dale Centre, justice for those killed in police arrests, custody and detention, stopping the Fracking (yeah Tiwi islanders), community development enterprises including self-construction and maintenance projects, renewable energy including hydrogen exports, as well as the collection and dissemination of Aboriginal stories about Country, which is my main projects.

I believe I will bring a different perspective to the Committee and have a reputation for calm responses to views I do not support. I aim to educate other members about different ways of fighting for change that does not involve denigrating our comrades, past or present.

 

 

Caitlin Perry - Committee Member (Northern Territory)

I have been a SEARCH Member since SEARCH was established and before that I was a CPA member for about ten years. Born and bred in Sydney, I have lived and worked in Darwin for over 30 years, working at a feminist women’s service, a community legal centre and I am currently employed as Senior Policy Officer at NT Council of Social Service (NTCOSS).   

My activist work over the years has included feminist, environmental and human rights causes and I have actively campaigned in support of women's rights, justice for First Nations peoples, LGBTI rights, environmental protection and climate justice, and I am a long-term member of my union (Australian Services Union). 

I support the general direction of SEARCH and would like to contribute to any way that I can. Based on my work and political experience and perspectives from Darwin and the Northern Territory I hope to make a constructive contribution to the work of the SEARCH Committee. 

 

Chris Warren - Committee Member (ACT)

I’m a Canberra-based socialist and trade union delegate, having been an active member of SEARCH for over six years now. I’m committed to the principles of democratic ecological socialism. Sustainability and equality require a new system.

I studied at the University of Sydney where I completed an honours degree in Political Economy.  I have been an active SEARCH member for a long time for a younger activist, including participating in and organising reading groups for young SEARCH members as far back as 2017.

I do my best to write topical, accessible and radical pieces for SEARCH News. Some include ‘Notes on a 4-day work week’, ‘Bushfires a turning point for the regional working class’, ‘The COVID-19 Recession’ and ‘Invest for Peace, Not War’. I hope this writing promotes our understanding of capitalism as a violent and turbulent system that we urgently must replace.

I have been an active and committed member of the SEARCH Committee for the last two years. I have also contributed to the work of the Communications Sub-Committee. I ask for your continued support as a member of the SEARCH Committee.

Outside SEARCH, I support CPSU members in my workplace doing the essential work of a delegate, building my union and the broader union movement. I am an activist on the issue of the four-day work week, fighting to expand the weekend. I’m also completing my Masters of Public Policy part-time at the ANU.

 

Jacquie Widin - Vice President (NSW)

I am running for Vice President of SEARCH in the 2022 election. In my previous position as President and currently as Vice President I have made a valuable contribution to the Foundation.

I have worked with committee and general members in a number of areas:

  • I am involved in all levels of committee work and participate in the education and political forums.
  • I am the co-convenor of the SEARCH Voice, Treaty Truth working group and have co-initiated seminars to support and develop left strategies.
  • I am the co-convenor the SEARCH Climate Action working group.
  • Building on our commitment for SEARCH to take the role of a linking and enabling organisation. In spite of the multitude of challenges over the past 2 years we have engaged a wide range of activists from different movements and trade unions in SEARCH forums, seminar events and education programs.

If elected as Vice-President I will continue to work for an inclusive, receptive and active SEARCH. My commitment is to:

  • collaboratively organise the SEARCH National Members’ Forum, an event which will focus on engaging and involving members in formulating our direction and political work
  • Ensure transparent financial responsibility
  • Continue to support and promote our highly successful seminars, education programs and forums.

I was a longstanding CPA member and an early SEARCH member.

I am active in the broad VOICE TREATY TRUTH movement. I worked in women’s and community health, adult education and have long been active in environmental and feminist movements. I currently work on international education aid programs in Pacific nations and South East Asia.

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