Labor Member for Ginninderra in the ACT Government from 2004 until retirement, Feb 2016
About Mary Porter - Retired Member for Ginninderra
Mary arrived in the ACT from the Northern Territory in 1977. Prior to this she was working as a volunteer Nursing Sister in remote parts of the Northern Territory for 12 years. She was a founding member of Tuggeranong Community Service (a regional community service in one of the ACT’s town centre regions, now known as ‘Communities at Work’) and employed with that organisation as the Manager of its Community Service Department until 1992. In 1992 she joined the staff of a Federal Minister for a 12 month period. She was a founding member of the Volunteering Association in 1986, and was employed by that organisation, now Volunteering ACT, as CEO after it gained initial funding in 1993 until October 2004.
Mary has sat on a considerable number of Boards & Committees including the ACT Chief Minister’s former Health Advisory Board, the ACT Government Joint Community/Government Reference Group and the Community Engagement Strategy Committee. She was influential in achieving a Social COMPACT between the Community Sector and the ACT Government. She is a former President of ACTCOSS, a member of the Board of ACOSS and is a member of the Social Developers Network and Ned-net Board.
Since her arrival in the ACT Mary has been involved in the support and the resourcing of volunteer effort and is a former President of Volunteering Australia, and former National Representative to the International Association of Volunteer Effort. She was awarded an AM in 2003 and a Centenary medal for services to Volunteering in Australia, and appointed Honorary Ambassador for the ACT in 2004. She was Nominated in 2003 for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the ACT’s Social and Community category.
Mary enjoys training and education in the volunteering profession and has built up a considerable level of expertise gaining training and assessor qualifications and completing two bodies of research in this area while with Volunteering ACT. Her most recent of these being in the area of managing “spontaneous” volunteers in times of emergencies.
Mary has a passionate belief in the power of people to make a difference and to create a more just and equitable society. She believes that by working together much can be achieved. Mary's focus of interest is alternative justice systems such as restorative justice; the support of young people through more education and employment options, mental health, older people's health, welfare, care and accommodation and the way our society can provide opportunities for all to participate in the community.
Mary was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly as the Member for Ginninderra in October 2004 and again in 2008.
Apart from serving as the elected Deputy Speaker in the 2008 Assembly, Mary also serves the Government on several Assembly Standing Committees. She is the current Chair of the Standing Committee on Planning, Public Works and Territory and Municipal Services and Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and Water. Mary also sits on the Assembly Arts Advisory Committee. She sat on the Select Committee for Estimates for 2005/06 and 2007/08 and was Chair of Estimates for 2006/07.
Mary is currently working on introducing a legislation regarding the management of Retirement Villages in the ACT. She is also working with stakeholders across all levels of education and justice system to further the incorporation of restorative practices in these settings. Other areas of policy she is currently working on are sport, animal welfare and bilingual education.
Mary is the ACT Patron of the Canberra and Area Amateur Theatre Awards. She is also a patron of Belconnen Community Health Centre, Canberra Philharmonic Society, West Belconnen Community Health Centre, Belnorth Football Club, Kippax Sports Club, Sports Club Kaleen, Belconnen Bowls Club, ACT Boccia, NuSkills Learning and Development, Australia’s Helping Hand and Gawad Kalinga. Mary is also an Ambassador for FOCUS.
Mary enjoys volunteering for Greening Australia ACT, planting trees to restore Canberra post the 2003 fire storm. She is also a member of the Hawker Community Fire Units and the Friends of the Pinnacle land care group.
Mary is a keen reader and poet and has published a short book of poems. She is the mother of three adult children, two adult stepchildren and the grandmother to eleven children. She was born in UK where, as a child, she served as a volunteer for the UK Red Cross, before arriving in Australia at the age of 12 years. She has been involved in Community work all her working life, paid and unpaid.