In her inaugural speech to the Victorian parliament, Jennifer Kanis said she believed a good government made a positive difference to people’s lives and that “it helps those in need and supports a vibrant economy, creates opportunity and builds people up to reach their full potential.”
Now the former Labor MP for Melbourne is trying to win back the seat she lost in the 2014 election.
Kanis was a former secondary school teacher at Glen Waverley Secondary College from 1999 to 2001.
She then worked as a Senior Associate for law firm, Holding Redlich, where she practised in employment, industrial relations and anti-discrimination law from 2005 to 2012.
She was elected as a councillor on the Melbourne City Council in 2008 where she served as the Chair for the People and Creative City Committee and the Deputy Chair for the Planning Committee until 2012.
Kanis contested the 2012 Melbourne by-election for the Labor party after former member Bronwyn Pike resigned.
She faced off against fellow Melbourne City Councillor and Greens candidate Cathy Oke whom she narrowly beat by a margin of 1.5 per cent to become the next member for Melbourne.
Kanis said her main focus, in her 2012 inaugural speech, was education, housing and homelessness.
“Access to secure, safe and stable housing is important in any civil society,” she told parliament.
“Without a home, people cannot even hope to improve the circumstances of their lives through work and education.”
The child of Greek and Italian migrants, Kanis says education was important to her parents when they first came to Australia.
“My story and my family’s story is one of what can be achieved when good quality education is available to all, regardless of their financial circumstances,” she said in 2012.
“When I speak to people in Melbourne they want for their families what my parents wanted for ours – the opportunity to succeed.”
Kanis failed in her bid for re-election two years later where she lost to Greens candidate, Ellen Sandell, at the 2014 state election.
She has been working as a Senior Associate and Social Justice Practice manager for Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in the past year and a half.
Kanis will be looking to make a return to state parliament representing the District of Melbourne in the 2018 election, a seat the Greens plan on holding firm.