12 August 2020

Confessions of an opinion writer (and a fond farewell for now)

| Rebecca Vassarotti MLA
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Rebecca Vassarotti will be taking leave from The RiotACT as she runs for the Greens in the forthcoming election. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

When the former editor of The RiotACT, Charlotte Harper, approached me almost four years ago and asked whether I would be interested in providing a regular column for the news platform I thought, “why not, how hard could it be?”

Turns out, rather hard. But while a large task, I didn’t know then how this incredible opportunity would help me grow as a person, a thinker and a writer.

As I sign off for a while through the ACT election period, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on what I have learnt through this process and to thank every person who has taken the time to read my columns over this time.

Every week for the last four years I have been given the incredible privilege to reflect on key local Canberra issues, analyse the research, share my perspectives, progress thoughts and amplify the great work of others.

These columns have reflected my passions and interests – in areas including housing and homelessness, environment and climate change, social inclusion and support, and policy change to keep people safer.

READ MORE Rebecca Vassarotti’s opinion pieces

This opportunity has meant I have needed to engage with new ideas, as well as expose myself to critical analysis.

Importantly, given I am running as a candidate in the forthcoming ACT election, it provides a record of my perspectives on issues for those interested in knowing more about the people putting themselves up for political representation.

It’s meant being open to feedback and criticism. While some of it has been harsh, most of it has been thoughtful, helpful and assisted in my future engagement in issues. Often readers have challenged my ideas, brought new information to the table and assisted in deepening my understanding of issues that matter.

Hopefully, my thoughts have provided some insight into key issues and presented some ideas of how we make this beautiful city we get to call home an even more fantastic to live – no matter your situation or circumstance.

This experience has also given me a little bit of insight into a changing media landscape, with its many challenges as well as opportunities.

Getting to work with a growing and creative news platform has been exciting. It’s been amazing to see the growth of this organisation as it continues to stamp its mark as a local media outlet.

I thank every staff member for your support and guidance and pay tribute to the rarely acknowledged but extraordinary editors.

Canberra has changed a lot over the last four years. None of us would have predicted the particular challenges over recent months – fires, smoke, hail, floods, a pandemic – that have triggered not only a health crisis but an economic one.

The challenges ahead of us are immense, but we have access to a deep pool of talents, creativity and compassion that will help us navigate this part of our history. Our shared love of this city and commitment to seeing it thrive will be the reason we will emerge stronger and more united.

So thank you, Canberra. Thank you, RiotACT. Can’t wait to settle down each week to read the insights of new regular columnists like the incredible Zoya Patel.

Rebecca Vassarotti is a lead candidate for the ACT Greens in the seat of Kurrajong for the 2020 Territory election. She works as an independent consultant in the not-for-profit community and health sectors.

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