There’s a lot riding on the next two weeks for student Rosie Annear. No pressure! “I’m stressed but I feel really good,” she says. “I can see I’m achieving things. I’ll be busy for the next two weeks but then it’ll be over.”
Rosie is referring to the final two essays and one exam of her degree, and one council ballot count that could cement her future for at least the next four years.
Rosie is on the home run to finish her Bachelor of Arts, with majors in English and Psychology, which she started six years ago. By the time she sits her last exam on October 29, she’ll also know if she has a place on the Mount Alexander Shire Council.
Rosie says putting her hand up to run for her local government election is one more shining silver lining of the year she never saw coming.
When Covid-19 restrictions hit in March, Rosie lost her job in a Castlemaine café, went into lockdown, and began home schooling her eldest daughter.
“I thought, I’m just going to go back to uni and finish my degree,” she says. “It’s been the one really positive aspect of Covid, the fact that I could return to study.”
But it wasn’t easy. Rosie describes health and financial pressures as being against her. “My confidence was very low at the start of the year,” she says. “Going back to uni, I was so unsure if I was even going to be able to do it.
“I enrolled and almost straight away I got an email from La Trobe about a crisis bursary. I applied and received $3000, which covered my mortgage. It meant I could do uni, look after my kids, and not have to worry about money. It was the push I needed to commit.
“I wasn’t planning on finishing my degree this year – I didn’t think I’d ever finish! Now I’m almost done and it feels like such a big achievement.”
Rosie says that achievement gave her the confidence to ask, what’s next? And so, she’s running for council in the shire she grew up in and has spent most of her life, besides an overseas stint after high school.
It’s the place she shares with her family and friends, where she’s been involved with suicide prevention and awareness, mentoring secondary students, where she’s cut loose on the netball courts, and with her beloved choreographed dance troupe, Lady Fun Times.
“I’ve never really felt represented by a councillor,” she says of her motivation to nominate. “They’ve always mostly been older, conservative, wealthier men, and they don’t represent me as a young, single mum and as a woman. Every four years it’s the same story.”
Rosie says when she first announced she was nominating, her friends and family thought she was joking, but when things got serious, they were right there behind, and beside her.
“I wanted to show other young people that you can just do it, and people will help you. My community has rallied around me to support me. They really want me to succeed. But I’ve already achieved what I set out to do – to show people you don’t have to wait for a ‘right time’ to do something. If you’re passionate, people will support you.”
Rosie says her experience of campaigning, meeting different people in her community, and sharing their concerns, has cemented her goal to represent them.
“Even if I’m not elected, it’s been such a valuable experience and I’ll definitely run again in four years’ time,” she says.
If she’s in, her plans for post-grad study will wait a while. If not, she’ll jump into an Honours year in English, then the Graduate Certificate in Psychology, then more study.
“In the end I’d like to be a psychologist and specialise in recovery through writing. Combining English and psychology has been such a powerful thing.
“I’m definitely keen to take it further and I can’t see myself not staying with La Trobe at this point because everyone has been so supportive. Even from when I first started and I was allowed to bring my baby to classes. I’ve had a really good experience.
“I’ve felt very held by La Trobe this year and in such uncertainty that was exactly what I needed.”