“I remember understanding what my father did because, in the area where we grew up in Brunswick, everybody knew each other,” Annalivia Hannan tells me over a cup of coffee near her office at the Moreland City Council. “Having the local Member of Parliament was probably similar to living in a country town with the Mayor or the police officer as your neighbour…”
Being in the public eye became a common thing as she was put under the spotlight every time her father was an honorary guest at her high school events. All that unintended practice gave Annalivia some of the skills to become the current Mayor of the City of Moreland. How she gained the rest comes with an interesting story built up by Brunswick’s multiculturalism, a few steps on the dance floor, a passion for social work, soccer, and a legendary family strategy.
Annalivia grew up on the west end of Sydney Road near the parklands right next to A G Gillon Oval. Her education was characterised by diversity and multiculturalism. Her local childcare centre was the predominantly Turkish-attended Tinning Street. She completed her prep years at Brunswick North West Kindergarten where her mother was an active community member.
“My mom helped to start up the Italian program that is still there today ” she proudly remembers with a smile.
She continued her education in Brunswick completing her primary studies at Brunswick North Primary School where she was taught Italian, Arabic, Greek and Turkish because, at that time, they were the languages spoken in the suburb.
Being a teenager in the early 2000s meant listening to Britney Spears, the Spice Girls, and pop-rap singers like Eminem and Tupac. Innocent dancing competitions doing [“what we thought was”] break dancing and shuffling were a common thing during birthday parties in Arabic or Italian community halls. “If you rewatch those videos, we all look ridiculous” she remembers laughing.
Dance-offs were part of growing up and so was secondary school. Annalivia completed high school at Brunswick Secondary College where teachers were passionate and focused on giving students the opportunity to go to University.
It was only after spending a gap year in Europe that Annalivia chose to complete degrees in Anthropology and Italian at the University of Melbourne. During her graduate studies, she got her first real taste of politics. She was first elected student representative of the Student’s Council for one year and then became Education Officer at the Student Union.
“It was probably pretty natural for me, I have to say”, she tells me as she remembers her first two big steps in politics.
One thing that was both interesting and challenging for her was identity politics. She was passionate about making sure every student, regardless of their religion, sexual orientation, class, race or social background, got a say in their community.
After finishing Uni, Annalivia consolidated her political skills. She started working part-time with the new state member for Brunswick, Jane Garrett. At the same time, she chose to start a two-year degree in Social Work which led her to a couple of interesting placements. The first in Haematology and Oncology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and then later with Family Services preventing vulnerable children from ending up in child protection.
Besides politics, sports gave her the chance to mix her passion for community, teaching, and people. She was always into soccer and for twelve years was a gymnastics coach at her local club.
“Soccer is a big part of who I am” she tells me, and with this phrase, she unexpectedly takes me to the story of how she met her husband. “We both loved soccer and we met right here in Brunswick at the Union Hotel where Lambros Tapinos celebrated getting elected as a Moreland Councillor”.
They would go on dates to Melbourne Victory games where they got to meet each other in an environment where they could be themselves.
“By the end of 2013, we weren’t changing our lives for each other, if we wanted to do something without the other, we just did it… but the following year we went to Brazil’s World Cup and that was one of our biggest tests as a couple”.
Having a common interest in politics, they visited the “Partido dos Trabalhadores” (Labor Party) offices which earned them the nickname “Socialistas Australianos” given by the Party’s official website. Testing their relationship in a foreign country and filling their memories with colourful anecdotes helped them cement their commitment to each other.
Annalivia ran for councillor in 2016, winning the position in October. The success of her campaign had a lot to do with her team.
“… before we got married, my fiancee, my father, and my mother all ran an election campaign together for me, so can you imagine, before we got married this was his final test… ”
And he passed with flying colours because later that same year, they got married. In 2020 she was re-elected for another 4-year tenure as a Councillor and convinced by the same team, and an 18-month-old daughter, to run for Mayor. She did and won the election to become Mayor in a post-COVID 2021.
Towards the end of our interview, Annalivia shares with me her vision for Moreland before she ends her current tenure as a North-East Ward Councillor. She really wants to focus on upgrading Central Coburg, getting an affordable and proper social housing scheme up and running, having a Sporting Precinct Master Plan, and making sure there are enough spots for children in Moreland to go to childcare and kindergarten.
We finalised our conversation with a message to Brunswick women thinking of taking a leadership role in our community. She encourages women to take the initiative because “it is a great time to be a woman wanting to be a leader today, and while there are still many challenges that we [women] continue to face, there is a lot more recognition and support”. She addresses her last message to Moreland mothers considering becoming community leaders by saying that “it’s still not easy but post-COVID is our time to maintain the gains that this has provided us with flexibility in work”.