Built on the power of potential, the Enid Dowling Foundation provides a unique opportunity for young people to pursue their political and professional goals. At the 2013 LNP Convention I was honoured to be selected as a recipient of the bursary along with my long time FNQ friend, Laney McLaren.
The Enid Dowling Foundation provided me with the ability to meet role models, establish fond memories, develop and attain new skills and create life changing experiences. To this day I carry an overwhelming sense of responsibility and gratitude to the spirit of the Foundation.
I was able to prepare an itinerary through detailed planning with the Trustees and wide consultation of extended networks. The planned itinerary resulted in a world ticket, travelling to the US, Canada & UK for a total of forty-four days.
I departed for San Francisco on the 24th of April. Being a founder of technology start-up, tanda.co, I was eager to find out how Silicon Valley (the birthplace of tech) really worked. Stepping off the plane one of the first things I saw was a advertisement mocking the intense culture that had established itself in the Palo Alto area: “Welcome to the Silicon Valley, where you come with a crowd funded idea, dad-funded hatchback and a no-funded bank account.” This, I found, turned out to be a very accurate slogan.
Over the week I was able to meet with start-ups, investors, authors, incubators and government contacts. Being close to Stanford University I also attended an unhealthy amount of available seminars, webinars, pitches and conferences. I think I absorbed so much knowledge that it began to replace basic travelling skills (I might have got lost a few times!). Highlights included:
- Meeting with Australian Start-Up ScriptRock. Originally based in Sydney, ScriptRock landed $1.2 million in a seed funding round led by Facebook board member, PayPal co-founder and technology startup investor, Peter Thiel. It was the first time he had backed an Australian company (they have since gone on to raise a further $8.7 million).
- Day trip to the Facebook Campus. I was given a personalised tour of the campus with one of the political outreach members of Instagram. We went into detail about how tech can be leveraged during campaigns and learnt specific skills to increase voter engagement. This was particularly interesting for me as the social media officer for the Young LNP.
- Meeting with the Austrade Investment Director.
- Meeting with Tanda partner, Xero.
- Meeting with CEO of ANZA Technology Network.
- Attended the Stanford MediaX Conference. A day long intensive from academics and industry professionals covering the future of wellbeing and productivity in a globally interconnected world.
I left Silicon Valley with a trove of ideas and techniques that I have been able to apply to my business and hopefully implement in future campaigns that I am involved with. It was a short flight from Los Angeles airport to the western Canadian country town of Calgary.
Calgary is found in the Alberta province most famous for its natural resources, beef and Calgary Stampede (touted as the worlds largest rodeo!). It is also the birthplace of the Canadian Conservative PM and the Conservative Wildrose party.
I was lucky enough during my stay to meet with the creator of the Manning Centre of Building Democracy, Preston ‘living legend’ Manning. Preston was the son of Alberta’s 8th Premier and founder of the Canadian Reform Party (which morphed into the Conservative Party). There was many life times worth of education hearing Preston talk of his accomplishments and experiences.
After hearing about my history with student associations, Mike Martin,Centre Director invited me back to the give a workshop to the twenty young members who has just started their internship programs.
We were able to cover policy, fundraising, campaigning, advocacy and efficient delivery of student services. I was glad that, by the end, everyone had an appreciation for grassroots activism and were equipped with the basic tools necessary to take up the fight to make changes at their university.
Whilst in Calgary I also able to spend considerable time with Wildrose candidate, Tim Dyck. Over two days we door-knocked (yes, in the snow), mailed newsletters, met campaign managers and talked about Wildrose structure & fundraising.
The Wildrose grassroots High-Volume Low-Value (HVLV) fundraising was particularly interesting. As an example they had just created a ’2016 club’ where individuals can sign up to donate $20.16 a month until the next election in 2016. The little things really do add up.
From Calgary I travelled to Ontario, the home of the Canadian Parliament. In keeping with the tradition of being the friendliest nation, I was delighted to meet with so many dignitaries. Notably:
- Meeting with Director of Conservative HQ.
- Tour of Canadian Parliament with Rob Anders MP. Rob was kind enough to take me on a personal tour himself after meeting with his staff and having a lengthy chat about his Ministerial duties.
- Meeting with Russ Hiebert MP, Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association who was kind enough to organise for me to attend Question Period.
- Public Policy Forum and Book Launch (government transitions) with former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson.
- Meeting with President of the Treasury Board.
- Meeting with the Australian High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner.
- Meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Meeting with the Minister of Industry. I was then able to attend a policy launch of $1.3M funding to the Canadian startup ecosystem with Minister Moore.
From Canada I then travelled to the last destination, the United Kingdom. I was particularly excited to arrive as there would be an election on during the time of my stay. With Andrew Rosindell, local MP and founder of European Young Conservatives, I helped campaign in Romford up to and on the day of the election. During telephone canvassing I was lucky enough to meet with Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The hard work paid off with our team securing twenty out of twenty-one conservative councillors, making national news due to the divergent trend.
During this time I also had the honour of representing the Liberal Party at the Conservative Westminster Foundation for Democracy Programme that saw twelve separate Commonwealth nations visit London to collaborate and learn campaign tactics.
Lastly, I was fortunate enough to meet with our very own Hon Alexander Downer AC during his first week on the job as UK High Commissioner. This is a position his father, Alick Downer, also held between 1963 and 1972. As a fitting end of the journey, I was invited to an Australia Week celebration where I was able to hear Downer’s maiden speech as High Commissioner.
None of these stories would have been possible without being a recipient of the Enid Dowling Foundation. It not only allowed me to open doors but self-develop whilst building lifelong connections globally. I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to attain these experiences.
Most importantly, I would like to thank the trustees, patrons and the late Deane Stahmann for their contributions to make this program possible. Through their continued guidance and generosity the spirit of Enid Dowling lives on.