I know Senator Jacqui Lambie is a controversial figure but after scuttling government’s refugee phone ban and now delivering this powerful speech on working class kids, I am starting to warm up to her.
Her recent speech on the floor of the Senate opposing the government’s university changes because they would make it hard for working class students to go to university resonated with me on so many levels.
I know because I was one of those working-class students she talked about.
Related: Jacqui Lambie to oppose Coalition’s university funding changes, saying poor kids ‘get a raw deal’
I went to one of the poorest high schools in this country – Parafield Gardens high school. A school with no culture of students going on to tertiary education.
It was assumed, and accepted, by those around me that if you came from the northern suburbs of Adelaide, you would end up on the factory floor.
Completing Year 10 was the ceiling. You were then ushered into vocational training and then into a low paid, insecure job behind a till or on a factory line (if you were lucky).
Universities did not bother with us.
We did not have mentors or “old boys’ or networks to open doors for us, prop us up and set up connections for life.
I was supposed to end up slaughtering chickens at the local abattoir with my twin brother before moving up to a job with Holden’s Elizabeth plant – with my older brother.
But it is not just that society (teachers, politicians, universities) gave up on me, on us working class kids, it could also be our own families.
Unlike most ethnic parents, my mother was never too keen on education because none of her working-class friends