i FranceDavid E Risstrom, the first Greens representative elected to any level of government in Victoria, has lived in the Cooper district for 15 years.
Risstrom spent his professional career in law, and says he chose to work with those who traditionally struggled to access legal representation.
“I have worked for over 20 years as a barrister working to a personal charter to represent disadvantaged people,” he said.
Risstrom’s career has also been focused on the representation of vulnerable people with mental illness.
“I served on the Mental Health Tribunal for over 12 years, making difficult decisions about people experiencing mental health challenges,” he said.
If elected, Risstrom’s goals are to be a “progressive balance in the Australian Parliament”, and to give those who “believe in decency in government”, a voice to be heard.
He says he is dedicated to addressing major issues affecting his Cooper constituents including “a healthier environment, decent wages, work and living conditions, improved public health, pride in public ownership and keeping government ethical and honest.”
Risstrom’s passion for protecting the environment led him to take action that began his political career.
“I successfully lobbied the Victorian Parliament in 1988 to create the Victorian Alpine National Park and recognise wilderness as a legitimate land use,” he said.
That victory in 1988 led him to complete degrees in arts, science and law, with a focus on climate action.
Risstrom says his positions on the environment have been consistent throughout his career and he intends to continue this cause, if elected.
“As your representative for Cooper, I will work hard to secure real action on climate change,” he said.
Risstrom has headed organisations such as Melbourne Affordable Housing, the Environment, Sustainability and Indigenous Affairs Committee of the MCC, and the Metropolitan Environment Forum.
Jan Berriman, Director of National Housing at YWCA Australia, reported directly to Risstrom when he was Chairperson of Melbourne Affordable Housing.
She says she witnessed Risstrom’s drive to help the disadvantaged.
“David has the key attributes required to affect change…. vision, ethics, political passion and a sense of right. You couldn’t go far wrong in dealing with David,” she said.
In 2004 Risstrom resigned from the Melbourne City Council after holding being a councillor for more than five years, to run for a seat in the upper house.
Risstrom was the “Victorian Greens No. 1 Senate Candidate for the 2004 federal election”, however ALP preferencing of Family First denied the Greens a victory.
Consequently, Risstrom questioned the integrity of the senate’s electoral system and criticised parties that engaged in preference deals, in what appears to be a sentiment shared by the majority of Australians regardless of political background.
“The Senate election system needs to be reformed to allow people to vote with their preference above the line – this form of electoral fraud by parties who apply pragmatism before principle would then be much more difficult,” he said.
Fifteen years after he was elected as the only Green Councillor for the city of Melbourne, Risstrom says is dedicated to “restoring integrity to our government”, stating that the major parties operate in the interest of their campaign donors before the public they were elected to represent.
“We need a government that works for us, not the big end of town,” he said.