A college dropout due to the high cost of living described herself as “privileged” when she campaigned as the Green Party candidate in the recent federal election.
Bella Mitchell Sears, 20, was at the center of a viral exchange Monday night when she told an ABC Q&A panel that her dream of becoming a high school teacher had been ruined by the ever-rising cost of living.
She said she felt “forced to put my education on hold as I need to work full time to support myself” and as a result, left her courses at the University of Melbourne.
This was the second time Ms. Mitchell Sears had appeared on the program since 2020 to express her concerns about the high cost of the university and her affordability of education.
But before finding her passion in teaching, Mitchell Sears dreamed of being a politician and campaigned for the Greens seat of Fraser in West Melbourne during the 2022 federal election – with a Lydia Thorpe sign on her front porch.
Bella Mitchell-Sears, 20, has appeared twice on ABC’s Q&A since 2020 to express her concerns about the high cost of college courses and her affordability of an education.
Photos from the start of her campaign show signs of Mrs. Mitchell Sears alongside Lydia Thorpe, who was campaigning for Senate re-election at the same time.
The seat – held by Labor – swung 6.6 per cent towards Ms Mitchell Sears during her campaign but finished third behind both major parties.
In his pre-election campaign speech, Mrs. Mitchell Sears noted that she is “very privileged in many aspects of life.”
She said, “I’m a middle-class white woman, with a steady job and education.”
Not everyone in my community is as lucky as I am. Both major parties have fallen far behind in our constituency, and it will be my generation that suffers the consequences.
“Both major parties fail to take action on climate change, childcare and education are out of reach for many, the cost of living continues to rise, while the rich continue to get rich.”
She called for stronger climate action along with free child care and education.
Photos from the start of her campaign show signs of Ms. Mitchell Sears alongside Thorpe, who was campaigning for re-election to the Senate at the same time.
Ms Thorpe has since left the Green Party, and is now an independent in Parliament.
But on Monday night, Ms. Mitchell Sears said she had changed her mind about her political ambitions.
She said: “The last time I asked a question…and I think the Labor member (who) said you had to go out and get involved in politics and that’s exactly what I did”.
‘But I don’t feel like it’s for me. I still want to get an arts degree.
Before finding her passion in teaching, Ms. Mitchell Sears dreamed of being a politician and campaigned for the Greens seat of Fraser in West Melbourne during the 2022 federal election.
The 20-year-old grew up in Footscray and attended the local public schools, where she excelled.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at the prestigious University of Melbourne, majoring in Politics and Media.
She has worked several hospitality jobs to make ends meet over the years, and has Grill’d, Boost Juice, and McDonalds listed among her part-time gigs.
“My bills keep going up,” Ms. Mitchell-Sears told Q&A. “Owning a home feels like a dream and it just doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better.”
“What would you say to me and other young people in my position, why should I decide between getting an education and putting food on the table?” I asked the TV panel.
She described herself as “special” during her campaign as the Green Party candidate alongside Lydia Thorpe in the 2022 election.
Deputy Citizens Leader, Perrin Davey, suggested Ms. Mitchell Sears consider moving to a regional community for a teaching career.
“If you want to become a secondary teacher,” said Mrs Davey, “one of the policies we fought for in the last Parliament… fortunately, credit where it was due, given by the Workers, was the waiver of HECS debts to important industries”.
If you earn your degree and commit to a four-year assignment in the regions, your HECS debt will be waived. Consider that as an option for the future.
Labor MP Josh Burns has encouraged Ms Mitchell Sears to consider her options, and has indicated that a review of the country’s university system will be undertaken.
“I think it was a step backwards to make humanities degrees more affordable[under Morrison’s government],” Burns said. “I certainly don’t support that.”
Victorian woman Bella Mitchell Sears stunned ABC’s Q+A panel Monday night by revealing that her cost of living is so high that she had to drop out of her undergraduate degree.
Ms. Mitchell Sears first appeared on the show in 2020, before she began her political career.
At the time, she was a Year 12 student trying to get through the year during Victoria’s Stage 4 Covid lockdown.
I asked the politicians on the committee at the time, Andrew Bragg and Gordon Steele-John, how they “justified” the decision to increase the cost of arts degrees.
‘Recent changes have pushed up the price of my degree,’ she said, ‘making a political career seem out of reach.
“How do you justify a significant increase in the price of my higher education, especially in already unstable economic times?”
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