When Jess Greene goes doorknocking, she makes an impression.
"One of the first questions people ask me when I doorknock is how old I am," Labor's candidate for the upper house seat of Rosevears says. "They say, 'You're a bit young'. I found that interesting."
"I don't think that age is necessarily an issue," she says.
At 33, it's true that Greene, of Riverside, is the most fresh-faced of the six candidates vying for the seat.
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But she's used to being the young one in the group.
At just 18, she began working as an adviser to Tasmanian Labor senator Helen Polley, reviewing legislation and helping constituents fill out grant applications, among other things.
Greene had joined the Labor Party in the lead-up to former prime minister Kevin Rudd's landslide federal election victory in 2007. They were heady days indeed for the ALP - days that feel as if they came and went a lifetime ago.
"That was a huge year," Greene says.
"The Your Rights at Work campaign was really heating up so I felt really lucky to be working for the Labor Party at that time and winning that election with Kevin Rudd."
Now a Community and Public Sector Union official, the young Greene met her future husband Nathan - who runs a small fibreglassing business - through the party.
When Labor's Geoff Lyons won the federal seat of Bass in 2010, Greene went to work for him.
"For both [Polley and Lyons], reviewing legislation was a pretty big part of my role and certainly writing speeches for Geoff and attending community events," Greene says.
From Lyons, Greene says she learnt the importance of volunteering.
"He volunteers for everything," she says.
"That's when I started looking at areas I could volunteer in. So now I volunteer on the board of Playgroup Tasmania and also the Child Health Association of Tasmania. And I'm the president of Laurel House, which is the sexual assault counselling and support service here in Launceston."
A member of the Labor Right faction, Greene still characterises herself as "quite a progressive person".
"Certainly I definitely support voluntary assisted dying legislation," she says.
Growing up in Carrick and attending Hagley Farm Primary School before going to St Patrick's College, Greene says she believes education is "really important", which is why she's keen to finish an arts degree she commenced many years ago but had to put aside due to work and family commitments.
"I've got a couple of subjects that I need to finish off," she says. "Studying took a backseat, I guess, when I started working full-time and it's something I really want to get back to now."
"I think I really know what area it is that I want to focus on and for me that would be policy around women, particularly around family violence."
Greene's five-year-old son, Archie, started kindergarten this year and his parents are struggling to get him the help he needs for his speech delay and learning difficulties.
Certainly I definitely support voluntary assisted dying legislation.Jess Greene
"It took nine months to get an early intervention package through the National Disability Insurance Scheme," Greene says. "And then when we finally got that package, there's such a skills shortage for allied health professionals in Tasmania, but especially Northern Tasmania, that once you get a package you can't get into a speech pathologist, you can't get into an occupational therapist."
"I was really keen to get that support before [Archie] entered school this year. But because of the shortage of allied health professionals in Launceston, it wasn't possible. Even through the private system.
"And if you're on the public waiting list, then you've got more than a 12-month wait, even just for initial screening appointments.
"Skill shortages are a huge issue, not just with allied health professionals but in aged and disability care as well. As a union organiser, I see it all through the public service as well. They are really crying out for skilled people."
Greene describes herself as a strong advocate for workers but with an appreciation and recognition of the vital role small businesses play in the Rosevears community.
"I feel privileged to work in the union movement," she says. "But also my husband runs his own small business so I can very much see that other side of the coin."
"During the pandemic, I've spoken to lots of sole traders and small businesses about the struggles that they're facing. I think that I take a pretty balanced view."
"Certainly I'd be a very strong advocate for jobs and for skills. With my background at Laurel House and helping out in the community services area, my interest areas are certainly around family violence, sexual violence, mental health, supporting people."
In a strange turn of events, Greene was elected to the West Tamar Council on a recount two weeks ago, following the resignation of Carol Bracken.
The votes Bracken received in the 2018 local government election were redistributed and Greene finished ahead of Victoria Wilkinson, Marcus Pattie and Jim Collier. Her term as a councillor will expire in 2022.
She says if she was to win Rosevears, she would resign from the council.
But Greene is realistic about the upper house election. She accepts that she's got an outside chance of winning the seat at best.
"It would be a real honour to be elected to the Legislative Council," Greene says. "But I certainly think it will be a really tough challenge for me, given the really high profile of the people that I'm up against."
"But I've always said from the start, win or lose I'll always be an advocate for our community. I won't stop that and I won't stop volunteering for the causes that I care about.
"But ... I think winning Rosevears is a long shot for me."
- This article is the final part of a series profiling all the Rosevears candidates in the lead-up to the August 1 election.
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