Candidate statement

I’ve nominated to be a Councillor for the South Coast Ward of City of Onkaparinga. Some information about me is shared on the LGA website; this is the only other place I’ll be discussing it online. I’m finding speaking with people face-to-face really valuable, but don’t want to be spending more time on social media. Please email me at cobi.onkaparinga@gmail.com if you’d like to organise a face-to-face meeting, send me a survey or invite me to a local event.

During the last 8 months of maternity leave I’ve really enjoyed being able to spend more time getting to know my neighbourhood better. I’ve recently joined the Board of Seaford Community Centre, where I’ve been leading mums and bubs yoga, as well as enjoying activities ranging from baby massage classes to an Adelaide Symphony Orchestra concert. I’ve benefited so much from attending my local CaFHS group for new mothers, as well as babytime at Seaford Library. It’s been these experiences, as well as calls from the community for greater council transparency, that have led me to nominate.

During a recent event at the community centre I was speaking with retiring Councillor John Gunn, who said that the key to council elections was getting people to vote. The majority of people simply throw their ballots in the recycling bin without a second glance, if they notice them at all. I’ve spoken to several people who don’t typically vote; one woman said “all right, you’ve convinced me I should – tell me where I need to go and when.” I explained that the ballots come in the mail, you don’t need to go anywhere but a postbox once you’re done!

I’ve just completed a PhD discussing deliberative democracy and the importance of diverse participation, so I’m focusing my efforts on talking to people who don’t normally vote to support greater participation. I’m not focusing my attention on the minority of people who are really engaged in local politics, discussing it on social media and going to meetings. If you’re reading this, you probably are one of those people – in which case, you’re welcome to email me to arrange an in-person chat. I have a baby to care for, so am being careful how I prioritise my time. This council experience for me is involving talking with people who I come across in my everyday life in the City of Onkaparinga, like new families, librarians and people in shops, parks or on the beach.

Running for council is an anxiety-inducing experience – for example, I’m not comfortable posting my personal address on the internet, which is part of the reason I’m not engaging in public debate about council issues online. I think the legal requirement to post your address with every interaction is a barrier to participation and thus undermines democracy.

However, running for council has also been a positive experience already, because I’ve met inspiring people – for example Katie from Seagull Studio, who made me feel like running for council while caring for a small child is normal! I’m hopeful that the positives of this experience will overwhelm the negatives and we can start 2019 with a fresh, open and collaborative local government in the City of Onkaparinga.

Authorised by Cobi Calyx, 6 Birch Ave Seaford 5169

#CitSciOz18 reflections

I benefited from a scholarship to attend #CitSciOz18, in return for sharing my reflections. It’s been several months since the conference now, which have felt like forever and no time at all (an album on high rotation at home), as in that time I’ve become a new mother. What a time of joy and no sleep!

I’m writing this at 4:30am when my son is nearly six months old and hasn’t woken to breastfeed. I am in the habit of being awake at this time, so suddenly have a moment to write (while listening out for him, ready to save this as a draft for another day and resume active parenting).

Back in the days before social media I used to blog voraciously – between Twitter and parenting, my blog posts have become like hen’s teeth. Marginally more common though, given this one.

I presented at the conference about some of my citizen science work, professionally and as a volunteer, in humanitarian disaster response and mapping projects.

It was fantastic to have a full house for our #EngagingCitizens session.

The conference was especially fun for me as it was the first conference I’d attended since graduation from my PhD, so was the first for which my name tag said ‘doctor’. Having recently submitted the final version of  my thesis, I particularly enjoyed the parts of the conference I saw through the lends of my PhD research.

Given my impending motherhood I was interested in research about women’s experiences with workplace breastfeeding spaces.

I was happy that the importance of encouraging ‘don’t know’ responses for data quality was emphasized in one presentation, something I’ve learnt in disaster response work.

The best thing about the conference for me, however, were not presentations but people. In particular, people who actively supported me attending a conference while heavily pregnant.

Most notably, a woman (who I’m not sure wants to be named) who noticed I was looking a little shaken when I arrived on the last day of the conference. I’d been to an obstetrician’s appointment that morning, where I’d been advised to have an induction by 40 weeks. Also, the conference was happening during a heatwave, so getting to the conference in the city from the hospital in the heat was harder than I’d anticipated. However I was enjoying the conference so much that I wanted to attend what I could of the last day.

She noted I seemed different to yesterday and asked how I was going. I explained where I’d been and that I was processing information I’d been given. She suggested we skip the next session and instead have a one-on-one discussion. She listened, then sensitively shared her experiences having her children and reminded me of my right to informed consent for interventions. It was exactly what I needed at that time. It’s not surprising that professionals in the field of citizen science also excel at evidence-based patient advocacy. A citizen science conference was an apt environment for living my dual roles of doctor in one field and patient in another.

So thank you to the organizing committee and this person in particular, for making my experience great personally as well as professionally.

For those wondering, yes I did have the induction, but was still able to give birth naturally without pain relief, as it happened on my terms. I’m loving being a parent, as well as finally a doctor!