new group which aims to get the GLBTI community more involved in politics has been established by three well known gay community leaders.

Set to shine a spotlight on issues that matter to the community, ‘Poof’s ‘n’ Politics’ has started with a survey to canvass community views.

Pride March Victoria president Brett Hayhoe — one of the three men heading up the advocacy group — told Southern Star the survey would be a “fact-finding mission”.

“[The survey] will essentially give us an overview of where our community sits in relation to the political process,” he said.

“Ultimately if you’re going to complain about government processes, you should also understand how those processes occur and what are your options.”

Independent City of Yarra councillor Dale Smedley and Peel Hotel owner Tom McFeely are the other two behind the group.

In announcing Poof’s ‘n’ Politics, McFeely also revealed to Southern Star he is seeking preselection for a seat in state Parliament in the upcoming state election.

McFeely is currently in discussion with a number of political parties, however, he would not disclose who he would stand for, saying he was “ideologically split”, coming from a working-class background and now being a business owner.

“I like some aspects from all political parties, but I can’t say at this stage where I’ll be. At this time I’m trying to engage with the political process.”

McFeely said he decided to run for state Parliament after unsuccessfully contesting the Yarra Council elections in 2008, saying he has “strong ideas” on law enforcement, alcohol and street violence and small
business.

McFeely said with ‘Poof’s ‘n’ Politics’ he wants to see the community engage much more.

“I’ve heard comments over the bar for years but for the last few years I’ve noticed there’s a lot of apathy out there in relation to the political process, especially with young people.

“The gay and lesbian community is Australia’s biggest minority group and I think that’s sometimes taken for granted.”

McFeely said he would look at running in an inner-city Melbourne seat and is open to all options for both the Lower and Upper House.

Hayhoe urged the community to complete the five-minute Poofs’n’Politics survey which covers specific issues the community would like to see the government tackle, along with general demographics.

“There’s a range of ways the information can be used to — inform government, to inform people who are intending to stand for government.

“It will be a nice rounded snapshot of where the community’s at in relation to a whole range of issues, but with an actual political thread.”

info: To complete the survey, visit www.poofsnpolitics.org.au

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