Love Local - we chat with Sarah Connolly, MP State Member for Tarneit
Meet Sarah Connolly, MLA Tarneit.
This month as part of our LOVE LOCAL series, we took the opportunity to chat with Sarah Connolly MP State Member for Tarneit, about her path to becoming a politician, her work in and around the local electorate and what she and her family love most about Tarneit.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a proud Westie, Unionist and Labor Member of the Victorian Parliament. I grew up in a small town in northern NSW and was the first person in my family to finish school and go to university, I left home at 18 to complete my Bachelor of Law at the University of Queensland and started my early career working in the criminal justice system.
My parents taught me to stand up for what you believe in, that everyone deserves a fair go regardless of their postcode or bank balance, and that equality is an important cornerstone of every community worth fighting for.
Before entering Parliament, I spent 13 years working across Australia in the energy sector, specialising in regulatory frameworks, policy and legislative reform, an experience that gave me an acute insight into the importance of long-term infrastructure and the need to get it right – something very relevant to the Tarneit Electorate today.
I’m raising two primary school aged kids at home with my husband. As a family we love going on adventures in the great outdoors, experiencing new culinary delights and spending time with extended family.
What led you into politics and becoming an MP?
I’ve never been one to sit on my hands when something needs doing. So, when the opportunity came up to nominate for preselection to be the Member for Tarneit, I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference for the people and families in our growing community that might not otherwise have a voice.
How long have you been the local member for Tarneit?
I was elected as the Member for Tarneit at the 2018 Victorian State Election.
Favourite places to eat in and around Tarneit?
It’s almost impossible to choose favourites, with so many delicious choices in our multiculturally diverse and cosmopolitan community. We are truly spoilt for choice. I do have quite a sweet tooth though, so Sprinkles Ice Creamery is always a favourite.
When I have the kids and hubby in tow, we love going to the Little Growling Café, which is run by a husband-and-wife team from Tarneit. They’re wonderfully friendly and the food and drinks are always fabulous.
What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities facing your community?
We’re a fast-growing community and it’s important to keep up with the services that local families need and deserve. While the Andrews Labor Government has done a lot for our patch and the West more broadly since being elected in 2014 – there’s still more to do and I’m committed to getting on and delivering it.
I also strongly believe we must not lose sight of what makes communities like ours wonderful places to live and raise children in. That’s why you’ll often hear me talk about upgrading parks and providing better access to new and improved green space, planting more trees, helping fund local community events and festivals and assisting our community sports clubs.
What is the best/worst thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is hands down meeting the thousands of people and families living in the Tarneit Electorate. We talk about the challenges and opportunities facing our community. We share parenting tips and tricks, stories about our childhoods, our hopes and dreams for our children and so much more. We are an amazing community and I’m reminded of that every day. It is an absolute privilege to be able to represent folks in the Outer West in the Victorian Parliament and give them a strong voice at the table where important decisions are made.
As someone who lives every day with a positive outlook on life, there’s nothing that can be considered the worst thing about my job. There is sacrifice that comes with the job – and that is the quality family time I get to spend with my children and husband. COVID has really made me stop and think about the importance of having a work life balance – something that many working parents struggle with.
Favourite things to do in and around Tarneit?
There’s always a lot happening in and around Wyndham, and the Western Suburbs more broadly. It’s now very much Melbourne’s epicentre and benefits from the vibrant cultural diversity and delicious food that comes from what feels like every corner of the globe.
One of the great things Tarneit does – and does so well – are community festivals, typically cultural celebrations that involve and welcome everyone. Depending on the time of year it could be local Holi, Diwali or Ganesh festivals. My kids love looking for a plate of biriyani or pani puris and always want to visit the van selling sweet Kulfi ice cream. We always come away with big smiles, fully bellies and plenty of henna.
During the month of Ramadan, Iftar dinners are held across our community, with many open to locals who wish to join Islamic families as the sun sets and they break their fast. I always feel so welcome and find myself learning something new and amazing about the Islamic religion and history at these dinners.
When it comes to summer, I enjoy visiting the many pop-up Twilight markets to check out the awesome handmade arts and crafts that are keeping people busy. There’s always so much on offer – clothing, toys, spices, cupcakes, candles, lotions and everything else you can imagine. It’s a wonderful evening to spend with the family, just wandering around, bumping into friends and getting a bite to eat before heading home.