As one of humanity’s most trying years comes to an end, we take a moment…
“It’s an amazing privilege to discover more about Canberra, meet more of its fantastic residents and be part of shaping its future.”
When Meegan Fitzharris moved to Canberra after her job with the Sydney Olympics was over, no doubt she didn’t predict a future as a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly. Her desire to do what she can to improve life in Canberra springs from the responsibility she feels as a mother to make the world a better place.
“Having children really brings home to you your own parents and everything they feel about you and how they planned and aspired for your future. I was overwhelmed by my past—everything I felt for this little creature that was just a minute old, my parents must have felt for myself and my sister. It really brings your past and your future together.
“It really gave me something else to plan for and aspire to rather than just me. As challenging as it can be day to day as they grow older, you get to know them as people and you get to think about what their future might be like, and you want to do everything you can to make that future look as good as it possibly can.”
Canberra has grown a lot since Meegan first moved here. “I lived in Braddon and then in Lyneham. I remember looking at Braddon and saying to my flatmate, ‘Imagine what this could be! So close to the city.’ Then, living in Lyneham, Tilley’s has always been an incredible magnet. It’s such an institution that it has kept that centre thriving. Now I’m in Gungahlin and walk around Yerrabi pond three or four mornings a week, just before the sun rises. It’s pretty special.”
While Canberra is only a young city, in a sense, Meegan feels a growing momentum. “We’re becoming more diverse and more lively. There’s a lot more variety of things to do and places to go, but it’s not segregated. There are different types of people wherever you go. It’s lively, but with a small-town feel. Where I live, we can walk to the centre of town in seven minutes, and to a lake in seven minutes, and into the bush in fifteen minutes. There’s not many places in Australia where you can do that.”
Like most of Canberra’s working mums, and with no family support in the city, Meegan feels the challenges of managing her priorities. “In this job, the hours are your own to some extent, and just spread longer across the day and into the weekend. It’s a job that’s hard to stop thinking about. On a personal level, I want to make sure that my family is okay. It’s about making choices about when I’m working and when I’m with my family. Recently, I spent most of the weekend at the multicultural festival doing official things, but I was able to take my kids with me. I want to make sure we get into a good rhythm.”
Speaking about what’s unique about our city, Meegan says we care a lot. “We’re a pretty thoughtful city. It’s a compassionate city that really does care about people doing well.
“As we grow, the challenge is how we grow and how our economy grows. We generally don’t ‘make things’ but have amazing service, creative, tourism, IT and higher education industries. The challenge is to know how to stimulate more of that. It’s an amazing privilege to discover more about Canberra, meet more of its fantastic residents and be part of shaping its future.”
And when she’s not helping shape that future through her work, Meegan is chilling out with her kids, watching films, walking and sometimes scrubbing down old furniture (half her house is furnished with pre-loved furniture from Tiny’s Green Shed).