#SnapPerth: Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw striving to make a difference


Jessica Shaw at the park in Chidlow with her mother Tracy (far right) brother Jordan and his nine-year-old daughter Madeleine. Picture: Supplied
Jessica Shaw at the park in Chidlow with her mother Tracy (far right) brother Jordan and his nine-year-old daughter Madeleine. Picture: Supplied

JESSICA Shaw says she is a “triple shot” kind of girl when it comes to her taste in coffee, so no surprise that she’s a regular face on the cafe scene.

The 39-year-old Member for Swan Hills jokingly said before she’s had her first coffee of the day, it’s not even worth trying to talk to her.

In conversation, the political newcomer presents an unwavering resolve and sincerity in her determination to represent the best interests of the communities in her electorate and to strengthen further the existing bonds.

She is proud of her working class heritage as the daughter of a bricklayer who escaped a life of domestic violence and from the age of 14, supported his mother as a hod carrier.

Her parents lived in a council house in outer London and in the late ‘80s ventured to Australia for a better life after they became disenchanted with ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Britain’.

The young Jessica was just 10 years old when the family set up home in Douglas Park, an outer suburb in Sydney, before they discovered the Perth Hills in 2006 and bought a block in Chidlow.

“When you migrate you’re very much alone because you’re this little family unit,” she said.

“We came with an aunt and uncle and you become tightly bonded; that’s stayed with me ever since.”

She attributes her success to her parents who did not have the opportunities they sought for Jessica and her brother Jordan, who lives in Chidlow and works as a carpenter.

“A good quality public education led me an awfully long way,” she said.

“I was the first person in my family to finish high school.

“Everything I’ve achieved is because of what my parents did for me.”

Growing up in a family that valued education laid the foundations for her academic journey and high-powered professional career.

It was while writing her thesis for a Masters of Law at the University of Cambridge that she once spied Stephen Hawking through a window.

She found herself awestruck and unable to approach “one of the greatest minds the world has ever known”.

“I’m the shy, retiring one of the women in my family,” she said, a character trait at odds with her warm personality.

The loss of her father Karl in a Rottnest diving accident five years ago was a pivotal moment in her life and she left a highly successfully career in energy resources to seek greater meaning in her life.

“Losing Dad gave me a chance to reassess what I was doing… he was a hyper intelligent guy, a man disadvantaged early in life who devoted his existence to working hard for his family,” she said.

“He is the reason why I believe if you have the ability and the voice, you should strive to make a difference – as we all should.”

A chance meeting with Mark McGowan at the Gidgegannup Show in 2015 led to pre-selection as the Swan Hills candidate for the Labor Party and the new pathway.

“I’m here to make a difference and help strengthen communities. There’s a strong community resilience in my electorate and really everything is about community; it’s the holy trinity,” she said.

The animal-loving politician lives in Mt Helena near her family with two schnauzers, two cats, a horse and a family of bandicoots on her property.

Thanks to our national partners Canon Australia and Harvey Norman and our state partner REIWA.

#SnapPerth 2017 takes place on November 22. Snap a pic, share it on Instagram or Twitter and tells us what’s so great about your corner of Perth. Click here for more.

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