By Georgia Manning, Matthew Hardeman and Brigid Feenan.
Sonya Kilkenny credits her feminist mother with giving her a ‘real sense of civic purpose’.
While campaigning for the marginal seat of Carrum, she thought back to days when she letter-boxed with her mother for the Whitlam government in the 1970s. She told UniPollWatch she wanted to follow the example of her mother who had worked hard to close the gender gap.
She said she favoured a quota system for women in management. ‘It is important for younger women to have role models who are women, and to see those women in management positions who are doing well in both government and private practices,’ she said.
A commercial lawyer who stood for Labor in Dunkley at the 2013 Federal election, Kilkenny heads a legal dispute resolution team at ANZ. She lives in Seaford with her husband and young son.
Kilkenny was born in Sydney and went to school in the US and Hong Kong before returning to Australia. She has worked for the Kimberley Land Council, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and is on the board of the National Theatre in St Kilda.
She recently co-hosted a forum on women in the workforce in Bonbeach with Shadow Industrial Relations Minister, Keilor MP Natalie Huthins. She recalled the response to figures from the Bureau of Statistics revealing the extent of the gender pay gap.
‘What they said was “we fought in the 60s and 70s, and we thought we had achieved this equality, and now you’re telling us that in fact, it’s worse…” There’s so much work to do… It’s just tragic.’
Kilkenny has been involved in initiatives including a push for improved sporting facilities for women. She is being mentored during the campaign by former Emily’s List national co-convenor Hutch Hussein, has spoken of her concern at the impact of government funding cuts on local schools and kindergartens and proposed changes to the Frankston line which trains would no longer go to Richmond and Flinders Street stations.
The ALP candidate is active on the social media site Twitter, where she has posted on issues including health sector and public transport. She has supported better pay for ambulance workers, availability of cannabis in exceptional circumstances, the need to set up a task force for ice intervention and more hospital beds.