A 25-year-old doctor believes she has the cure to the political woes plaguing the region.
Dr Nivanka De Silva is the Greens candidate for the seat of Murray, and she’ll be hoping to inject some new ideas into the political discussion.
Her main election platform will be improving the electorate’s woefully underfunded mental health services, which she has experienced first-hand working as a psychiatrist.
“I’m appreciative of what our mental health workers are doing, but there’s only so much they can do when working with limited resources,” Dr De Silva said.
She believes that better hospital funding, more mental health bed spaces, and better early intervention care are needed to fight the spate of suicides in the region.
Another one of her prescriptions will be a royal commission into the “failed” Murray Darling Basin Plan, which she blames on incompetent water management by the government.
“The Murray Darling Basin Plan has failed in every one of its primary aims, including environmentally, socially, and economically,” she said.
Dr De Silva supports water buybacks, which may be a bitter pill to swallow for some in the electorate, but she believes it's necessary for the continued health of the basin and the environment.
Another political priority will be standing up for the multicultural communities in the region, a cause she sympathises with as a Sri Lankan immigrant.
She made Deniliquin her home at age 11, and she’s been proud to call herself a Deni local ever since.
Despite a “disturbing national narrative” against immigrants, Dr De Silva has found a loving community for herself in Deni and wants to pay back the favour.
She’s proud of her electorate for defying the stereotype of immigrant-hating country bumpkins, pointing to Griffith as a shining example of successful multiculturalism.
“Griffith has had generations of Italian immigrants, and now there are Indian and Chinese people who have come and made it a vibrant community with lots of different diverse strengths,” Dr De Silva said.
“I want to shine a spotlight on those stories and advocate for a more united Australia where people can belong regardless of race.”
Dr De Silva knows she has an uphill battle ahead of her, but she said she’s determined to put up a good fight in the name of grassroots democracy.
She's hoping to offer an alternative to voters who are fed up with the status quo.
For those voters, Dr De Silva is offering new ideas and a prescription for change.
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