Jess Walsh is currently a Labor Senator for Victoria and was first elected in 2019.
Jess grew up in Melbourne’s North Balwyn alongside her two siblings. Jess’ mother had a 40 year career as an English teacher and passed down her love of education and books to her children.
This love of learning stayed with Jess through university and followed her to the United States where she continued her studies and worked in urban and economic policy centres. There, she saw a concerning rise in poverty-wage jobs, where people struggle to make ends meet despite often working full-time. She was inspired though, by the determination of low-paid, migrant and women workers to stand up for a better life through their unions.
Upon returning to Australia, Jess has spent her working life as a researcher, campaigner and union leader. She has been proud to represent diverse people including cleaners, ambos, security guards, early childhood educators and hospitality workers with United Voice (now United Workers Union), one of Australia’s largest unions.
Jess is passionate about helping people who perform undervalued and underpaid work in our country to build a strong voice at work, in the community and in politics. Jess has been involved in campaigns that have helped diverse communities win respect and recognition in some of Australia’s lowest-paid sectors. While at United Voice, she launched Hospo Voice, Australia’s first digital union for young hospitality workers.
Jess holds a Masters Degree from the University of Southern California and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. Before entering Parliament, Jess worked as a researcher, organiser and then State Secretary of United Voice in Victoria.
Elected to Federal Parliament in 2019 as a Senator for Victoria, she spoke of the need for a whole-of-government secure jobs pledge that assesses every government decision against a simple but critical question: does it create decent, stable jobs with respect, or does it put more Australians on the path to insecurity?