About Marisa Paterson

My name is Marisa Paterson.

I was born in Melbourne, although spent half my childhood in high country Victoria on my grandparents' farm. I moved to Canberra in 2005 to study at the Australian National University. I did a Masters of Anthropology and Participatory Development. Following that I moved to the Northern Territory, Darwin, and then out to a remote Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land, Maningrida. I worked in a pub in Darwin’s rural area for a while, until I was eventually awarded a PhD scholarship to study the impacts of gambling in remote Indigenous communities in the NT.

I was always passionate about social and mental health issues, although I had never given much thought to gambling and the impacts before this point. This project was the start of what would be 15 years working in remote Indigenous communities. It also marked the start of 15 years working on gambling policy in Australia. I worked in a range of research schools and centres at ANU, until I became Director of the Centre for Gambling Research. I loved this job and it taught me a couple of things that were pivotal in my decision to run for politics:

  • Firstly, although I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work in some of the most unique and remote parts of Australia, what I realised was that I was most passionate about making a contribution to my own community in the ACT.
  • Secondly, I felt although I could offer some significant evidence-based insights into the impacts of particular policies or programs through my research - I could recommend change, but I couldn’t go the next step and implement it.

So, I joined the Labor Party!

I did not have any experience prior to this in politics, but it was very much the right decision for me. I was nominated to run as one of the 5 Labor candidates for the seat of Murrumbidgee at the end of 2019. (And for those interested, I am not factionally aligned).

I am passionate about my local community, having lived in Weston Creek for 15 years, and for a period of time in Molonglo Valley. I saw the campaign in itself as an amazing opportunity and experience to get to know my community and what the important issues were to people.

In October 2020, I was elected which I am incredibly humbled by. I take my responsibility as your local member very seriously. I am 100% committed to being accessible to the 75,000 residents of the electorate. I view my role as working through issues, from the smallest to the largest, step by step with the aim of achieving the best outcomes for the community.

You can find out more about me and the values I bring to my role through the inaugural speech I provided to the Legislative Assembly on 3 December 2020.

With the ACT elections quickly approaching us in October 2024, it is a privilege and an honour to have been preselected again for the seat of Murrumbidgee. I'm also pleased to announce that I've been appointed ACT Labor's spokesperson on justice and gaming policy.

It is with great pride that I embrace this responsibility, as I see it as a natural extension of my longstanding commitment to reforming our justice system. Throughout this term, I've introduced various Bills aimed at reshaping our sexual consent laws, sentencing laws, changing bail laws for select dangerous driving offenses, and advocating for the establishment of a specialised court to address sexual offenses. I am also passionate about new ways of reducing recidivism and expanding the ACT's restorative justice practice. 

Gaming policy is another area that I have a long-standing passion to see reform. Earlier this year my Bill to see no pokies in any new development areas of the ACT (including Molonglo Valley) has sparked a very interesting discussion around the future of clubs in the ACT and what that a sustainable future looks like without poker machines. My priority is to reduce gambling harm, and I have plenty of ideas that I look forward to presenting to the Murrumbidgee community.