Thom Woodroofe came to Monash as an Arts Global student, eager to engage in his studies and the world around him.
While being inspired by his units on foreign affairs and politics, he felt that young people wanted to engage in issues that fell beyond the traditional pigeonholing of left, right or centre. This conviction led to the creation of a new independent “think tank” called Left Right.
Left Right’s motto is “Hard Heads, Soft Hearts and Young Minds”, and the vision is for a society that seeks out and embraces the ideas of young people. “It’s about a constant desire to stimulate discussion, not a regurgitation of the party line, there’ll be overlooked concepts within an issue, or an entirely new idea”, Thom says.
Thom attributes the success of Left Right to its unique approach and the dedication of its volunteers. In this organisation he has found a perfect niche for young people who are not interested in joining political parties or unions. He says this attitude reflects poorly on those institutions rather than on young people. He has also modelled Left Right on a corporate model in order to maximise efficiency and longevity, and to maintain focus.
Since its launch Left Right has been initiating new ideas for issues facing his generation, such as climate change and the economy. It has also come up with some fresh ideas such as dedicating seats in Federal Parliament to indigenous representatives.
Apart from his work in Left Right, Thom has been very active in gaining experience and sharing his ideas throughout the world. He spent time working in the United States Congress during the inauguration of President Obama. He has written articles for The Age and Herald Sun and has made appearances on TV and the radio. He has also spoken at schools, conferences and youth forums throughout the world. In 2009, he was made the Young Victorian of the Year.
In 2014 Thom was awarded an Australia-At-Large Scholarship to study at Oxford University in the UK.