Chatting with Georgie Purcell, Working for Animals in Politics
At Kinds of Grace we love speaking with women who inspire us. Women who have a great sense of style, but also of morality.
Georgie Purcell is Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick’s Chief of Staff. Driving the wonderful work of Mr Meddick and his team at AJP, Georgie has and continues to push animal liberation closer to reality.
Some recent examples include exposing the sale of animal fur sold as ‘faux’ in Melbourne, securing rescue and support packages for wildlife following bushfires and legally protecting wombats from hunting.
Georgie is also the President and Communications Manager of the Oscar’s Law campaign, which saw the end of puppies and kittens being sold in stores from mills and factory farms in Victoria, and campaigns for the same laws across the rest of Australia.
What first got you into the animal rights movement?
Almost 10 years ago now, I watched a live export story called A Bloody Business. I was so angry and upset at what I saw, that I decided to join the rally in Melbourne with a friend. At that rally, I was handed a flyer to attend a rally for a ban jumps racing protest a few weeks later, which I went to and the rest was history! That protest was also how I met my husband, so the world certainly works in mysterious ways.
What’s something you’re most proud of?
I'm really proud of some of the smaller, lesser known things we've achieved in our time in parliament, such as getting a ban on cruel fruit netting that traps flying foxes. Those adorable flying puppies are so vital to our environment and ecosystems, and are also really misunderstood. As of 2021, retailers will no longer be able to sell the netting that captures and kills them in droves each year.
Another great achievement was the work our team did to expose the fur trade operating here in Melbourne, with a bunch of items at Melbourne markets being labelled as 'faux' but testing positive to being raccoon dogs, in the same family as our companion dogs! It made front page news, and when we took it to parliament, we were able to convince the government to fix it. Animals aren't fabric - they have no place in fashion. That's why I am so thankful for the surge in options when it comes to vegan fashion now, it's so much kinder to animals, and of course, better for our planet.
I am also really proud of being a young woman in a political leadership role. You don't need to spend too long in parliament to see that a lot of the time, it's still very much a boys club, and I reckon taking that on as a woman in your 20s (with a rad team and a great MP) is a pretty cool thing.
We know (and love) that you’re a fierce feminist and unionist too, what are some of your goals, for animal rights and beyond, going forward?
Victoria is seen as a progressive utopia. Our government is so socially progressive. That's why I am so shocked to know that duck shooting still exists here, despite being banned in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales, some doing so many decades ago! Blasting our native waterbirds out of the sky for fun is something that must be relinquished to the dark ages, and I am determined to make it happen. Our team in parliament has already done a lot of work to ban duck shooting, and we're not giving up until we win!
Georgie holding a wounded and pink-eared duck who unfortunately later died after being shot.
Outside of animal protection, I am really looking forward to lobbying in support of making wage theft a crime, with a bill going before parliament this term. As a young person who has worked in industries like hospitality, I know all too well just how common this can be. I'd also really love to see better access to women's reproductive services here in Victoria, with affordable and accessible options, no matter where you live or what you earn. Reproductive healthcare is a human right.
Do you have a quote or phrase that keeps you going when times are tough?
'Don't Agonise, Organise' - Florynce Kennedy
This quote reminds me that collective political action is the key to dismantling oppression, and the power that comes with our movements organising and working together for change.
I've also recently listened to an e-book about the power of affirmations, which is so something I never thought I'd say! If I know I am going to have a particularly stressful and busy day, or have a meeting with someone powerful or intimidating, I try to repeat an affirmation to myself in my head throughout the day. One of my regulars is 'I am capable and assertive, my contributions are valuable'.
What does self-care look like for you, particularly at the moment when times are so strange?
Self-care for me is taking my 3 beautiful dogs on a long walk with my phone on do not disturb, my headphones in and a good podcast on. I have 3 puppy farm survivors, and seeing them experience so much joy and excitement on their walks is one of my favourite things, especially thinking back on what they have been through. Seeing them happy really impacts my mood.
Georgie and her puppy farm survivor fur babies
I also love to cook a good vegan meal and eat it in the bath while watching SVU, and weirdly, one of my cats usually sits on the bath ledge with me!
A large part of self-care for me is having firm boundaries and structure on my day, which is something I have still tried to keep to at the moment during isolation, despite always being home. I thrive when I set designated work time, exercise time, relax time and bed time.
Of all the delicious food on Georgie's Instagram, our favourite was vegan breakfast for dinner!
Can you tell us about King Louis and the lamb clan?
King Louis is one of my beautiful sheep. I took him on with my husband when he was literally just one day old. His mother died soon after he was born while giving birth to his twin, and he was left abandoned in a paddock where he would have died of exposure if someone didn't find him. I bottle-fed him and kept him in the house during the Winter, where he loved to sit in front of the fire and on the couch with us while we watched TV.
Georgie and two newly rescued lambs
I soon fell in love with lambs and their unique, special personalities, so I agreed to foster more. 3 years later, we have a little flock of 15 sheep known as The Lamb Clan! Shameless plug: they are actually on Insta and you can follow them by searching the handle @kinglouislamb if you love wholesome happy sheep content. They are still just as lovable and adorable as big fluffy sheep, and I really hope by sharing their stories that people will connect with them and choose not to eat or wear them.
Your style is really fun and feminine, and we love that you show that ‘girly’ is great, not a weakness - changing laws and kicking goals with pink hair and huge colourful earrings is a big vibe. How do you think you’ll most like to style your bag?
I work out of Parliament House a lot, which means I dress up! I am definitely going to style my bag with my favourite chunky sock boots, a midi dress, a big, bold pair of earrings and a nude lip. I'm also looking forward to going with a more casual vibe away from the office, styling my bag alongside high-wasted jeans, white sneakers and one of my favourite animal rights tees.