Members On Their Way

Members On Their Way: Deborah Wu

Meet the public servant who is passionate about getting more women into politics.

By Natalie Cornish

Members On Their Way

Meet the public servant who is passionate about getting more women into politics.

By Natalie Cornish

Deborah Wu was born in Sydney to migrant parents from Hong Kong. The family later moved to Melbourne, where she now calls the inner north-west home. Having worked in politics in some form since 2013, Deborah cut her teeth as a “jill-of-all-trades” for two members of parliament before leaving party politics to join the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) as Women’s Engagement and Project Officer. Now, she supports women from all political stripes who want to take the leap into local government. Here, Deborah talks getting more women into politics, her passion for diversity, her love for true crime podcasts, and the feminist manifesto she can’t put down.

I joined Future Women because I love hearing women’s voices – and there are so many unique perspectives. The sense of community has been terrific.

I’m leading a campaign, ‘Local Women Leading Change’ at the VLGA. We’re working to increase the representation of women in local government by giving women the knowledge, tools and confidence to run.

I’m passionate about equality and diversity – achieving progressive change and a fairer world. And dogs.

I’m reading Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani, who founded Girls Who Code in the US. I think it’s a travesty that it’s classified as ‘self-help’ – really, it’s a feminist manifesto about embracing setbacks and failure, and rejecting the flawlessness myth.

“I’m passionate about equality and diversity – achieving progressive change and a fairer world. And dogs.”

True crime podcasts are my ambient noise, but I love This American Life, Hidden Brain and Ladies, We Need to Talk. My boyfriend loves that one too.

I have met so many remarkable women, and I take away something from every one of them. That said, as an Asian-Australian woman in politics, meeting the incomparable Penny Wong was definitely a highlight.

Deborah Wu with Lauren Solomonson and Jenny Wills from WILD (Women in Local Democracy)

I would like to learn how to get more women into decision-making roles – especially culturally and linguistically diverse women. How do we get to 50/50 representation? Luckily there are some trailblazers out there, and some people doing amazing research, including my friend Steph who is about to launch her ‘Julia Gillard Next Generation Internship Report’.

My driving force is equal measures of frustration and hope. Frustration that we don’t do better at tackling climate change, achieving gender equality, ending gendered violence; hope that with more women and younger generations we can do better.

Outside of work I love to walk my rescue greyhound, Wally. I also bake and watch stupid amounts of online TV.

The future for women is truly equal access to education, information and knowledge.

We can lift each other up when we forge the path and keep clearing obstacles.

I’m most fulfilled when I can see the impact of my hard work. Realising that your work has changed someone’s circumstances or viewpoint, and made a difference, is incredible.

Self-care means being attuned to your mind and body’s needs, wants and feelings. Balance.