Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent takes ABC’s Ali Clarke on a ‘Power Trip’

ABC Radio Adeliade | Ali Clarke

Ali Clarke: Kelly Vincent thank you very much for coming and taking me on a power trip: so this is your car, your vehicle? It’s specially modified.

Kelly Vincent: Yes; as you can see, my chair gets put down and I stay in there, and Jarrod or another support worker, usually drive me around, particularly when we’re going on longer trips so there’s no public transport option. So recently we’ve been doing for example a lot of regional trips which has been great, and Jarrod’s been there for every one of those so he’s a great help.

Ali Clarke: Say hi Jarrod.

Jarrod: Hey there.

Kelly Vincent: There’s no need to be camera shy, but trust me, he’s not.

Ali Clarke: So do you guys spend most of the time working on policy and bouncing questions off each other or are you spending more time singing to your favourite tunes?

Kelly Vincent: He’s definitely the singer; I’m more of the interpretive dancer, he’s been listening to a lot of Spanish music lately so I’ve been translating for him; I speak Spanish but it’s about the end of my musical talent.

Ali Clarke: you speak French as well don’t you?

Kelly Vincent: I do, yeh. Lovely language.

Ali Clarke: Multi talented. I mean you were the youngest woman to be elected to an Australian parliament, you were the first to be elected on Disability platform as well, do you see yourself as a trailblazer or is it something that you just did?

Kelly Vincent: I think it is just something that you just do. I mean particularly being born with a disability you get used to advocating for yourself and your peers very early on in your life, and I also have a brother who is disabled as well. So for us it was very natural to be advocates, not only for our own experiences but to use that to empathise with others and to see what else we could do to improve the community for everyone. I’m so lucky that this is my everyday life. I’m so lucky, but it’s not something that you’re conscious of all the time.

Ali Clarke: Do you get tired though? Do you get tired of it? Do you get tired of having to be an advocate for yourself I guess, but also others?

Kelly Vincent: Look I think I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t get tired; I think if you stop feeling that frustration and stop feeling that kind of fire you probably shouldn’t be there anymore because I think that fire is what spurs you on, so much of the time. And it’s often when you feel like giving up is right when that change that you keep pushing for seems to happen. So, no I don’t really get sick of it. I have my days, or my moments, but no; not long term.

Ali Clarke: But what about your days before you were Kelly Vincent politician? You were actually a playwright and an actress.

Kelly Vincent:  Yeah; trying to be anyway.

Ali Clarke: So has the acting come in handy in politics?

Kelly Vincent: Definitely, I grew up as a drama kid so to speak and that does hold you in good stead; I mean Jarrod can tell you when we’re travelling from place to place and often doing my ridiculous vocal warm ups and breathing exercises that he’s just become very used to.

Ali Clarke: Give me one of your best ones.

Kelly Vincent: I love this one; I find it very relaxing [blows through lips]

Ali Clarke: I can’t even do it [makes attempt]

Kelly Vincent: Just, sort of like a horse; there you go.

Ali Clarke: [laughs] I think I need to go on more regional tours …

Kelly Vincent:  Well there’s a spare seat so if you want to join me.

Ali Clarke: So what has been the biggest learning I think you’ve taken? I mean you were elected back in 2010. You’ve been a politicking for quite a long time; what’s been the biggest learning?

Kelly Vincent: One of the things that’s all been about is learning that at the end of the day everybody thinks they’re the good guy, and it doesn’t matter how much you disagree with somebody and their politics or what they might be standing for, everyone is doing it because they think it’s the right thing to do.

Ali Clarke: Do you really think that? I mean I look at for example instances of horse trading where someone has to give up something that they may not necessarily believe in and they just have to either go along with the party line.

Kelly Vincent: Particularly as a minor party member where you have to work constructively with different parties to make change happen by virtue of the numbers, I think that point of view really helps to actually put aside your personal arguments and work together constructively I think, it’s been really important and led to a lot of great interest that we’ve been able to work with.

Ali Clarke: Do you then see that you could potentially be a politician for the rest of your life or do you see a future where diversity, people with disabilities, a wide ranging society is everyone treated equally, truly equally and understood?

Kelly Vincent: I’m probably one of the few politicians that you will hear genuinely say that they look forward to being redundant.

Ali Clarke: [laughs] and you’re not on a big golden pension plan as part of that.

Kelly Vincent: No; that actually came out the year I came into politics so I’m on no great big pension

Ali Clarke: All the breaks!

Kelly Vincent: But definitely my ideal society is where we don’t actually need political parties representing minorities, and while that isn’t the only thing we do of course we have a voice and a hope on every issue that comes across parliament, our focus is definitely on some of those more marginalised South Australians, including those with disabilities and mental health issues. But I look forward to a society where maybe that isn’t as necessary as it is now.

Ali Clarke: We’re now heading right down in the middle of the city, King William Street, and you talk about accessibility and just walking on the streets sometimes around a city, people who are able-bodied don’t even actually contemplate some of the challenges for others.

Kelly Vincent: we hear that so often; ‘I broke my leg, I was in a wheelchair for a month, and it just opened my eyes so much.’

Ali Clarke: People with prams.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely, the City South tram stop coming up; the reason I wanted to point out that was that that is actually the only tram stop on our Metro tram network that is still inaccessible to people using mobility aids, so even if you have a pram, as you said, it’s very tricky and it’s actually so narrow that the driver is not allowed to deploy the ramp because it’s too dangerous for someone like myself to get on and off unsupervised, if they don’t know how to pop a really good wheelie. So, – it’s really disappointing I think that while we see these four new trams being built we still haven’t dealt with our existing tram stop and how they could be improved for everyone in the community.

Ali Clarke: Past the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, we are making our way and we’ll finish at Parliament House. It’s been wonderful to sit with you and talk like this and I guess open up a little bit of the extra considerations that you need to take to get about your political life; I mean goodness, they had to change parliament house for you just so you could get in.

Kelly Vincent: They did, yeh.

Ali Clarke: What other considerations do you need to take that other politicians wouldn’t have to?

Kelly Vincent: Obviously the access, if I get invited to a community event I have to check whether I’ll be able to get in the building and whether I’ll be able to go to a toilet which is why I’m so lucky to have people like Jarrod with me. But, I would love to, no offence Jarrod, but I would love to take you with me less often.

Ali Clarke: Yeh Jarrod.

Kelly Vincent: [laughs] that’s not to say I don’t love you to pieces but it’s all that consideration, and I don’t talk about this one a lot because I kind of don’t want people to read into this too much, but physical fatigue is also a consideration for me: so storing up energy is it going to go late? I’m also on the autism spectrum so I’m very sensitive to crowds, noise and lights, so those kind of considerations, particularly for turning a very busy crowd, but the thing I’m most proud of is it doesn’t stop me: I have never been that person. This is literally the first time that I’ve ever said to a journalist that there are things that are harder, and some of that is probably my own internalised stuff as well; don’t talk about that because we judge you, people will judge you for being weak. You know I’m kind of glad that I’ve been able to talk about this.

Ali Clarke: Thank you for trusting me with that. Well we’re just about at the end of our power trip; Kelly Vincent it’s been an absolute pleasure and I’ve just spotted something that’s fallen down from the floor, and I am a little bit, I’m a bit worried and curious about this.

Kelly Vincent: It’s not real; it’s totally a prop. Obviously when I always listen to you travelling from place to place, The Best of Ali Clarke, Road Trippers, it’s even got a picture of you on the back.

Ali Clarke: That would be a very, very short CD.

Kelly Vincent: It’s totally fake [unclear] it’s not even a CD, it’s just a DVD we had around the office.

Ali Clarke: Totally fake. This fake, this real. Alright? Kelly Vincent, all the very best, thanks for the power trip.

Kelly Vincent: Thank you so much.

Ali Clarke: We’ve also videoed our power trip and obviously as you can imagine it was a very long ranging discussion so there’ll be more information and more discussion there find that video on our Facebook page; just go to Facebook and then type in ABC Adelaide. And Steven Marshall, Tammy Franks, Nick Xenophon, Cory Bernardi, Jay Weatherill, start cleaning your cars out because I am coming for you.