Bryn Hills, a music teacher at Ballarat High School, can pinpoint the exact date of his political awakening.
It was six years ago on World Vegan Day and he was wandering around the Melbourne Vegan Exhibition. He came across the Animal Justice Party stall, which was offering free membership, and signed up on the spot.
Around 20 years ago, I watched a film called Babe and the very next day I became a vegetarianBryn Hills, Animal Justice Party candidate for Ballarat
It proved a defining moment. "The more I learn about the party, the more I realise that my ethics, my morals, my beliefs - everything that I thought should be happening in the world was totally in sync, totally in concert with the party," he told The Courier. "It became the natural party of choice for me."
It was the next stage in a political journey that has also featured a well known movie from the 1990s.
"Around 20 years ago, I watched a film called Babe and the very next day I became a vegetarian," Mr Hills said.
"Then about 10 years ago I became vegan when I learned more about what happens in factory farming."
He says the Animal Justice Party is more than just a single issue organisation. "We have very strong policies on health, environment.
"The environment and climate emergency policies are a global issue but we have to act locally. We have to be leaders in this regard.
"One of our key policies is leading from animal agriculture to plant-based agriculture and assisting people to do that."
His step from active party membership to candidacy came when he stood at the state elections in Wendouree last year. It was a family affair, in fact, as his eldest daughter Anna stood for the same party in Ripon at the same time.
What we're trying to do is make [animal cruelty] more part of the narrative so people are aware of it, so more can be done to improve the lives of everyone concernedBryn Hills
He garnered 1303 votes - 3.46 per cent of the total - which he hopes to improve upon on May 18.
And how have his students and colleagues reacted to his campaigning? "Ballarat High School is a really wonderful school," Mr Hills said. "The leadership team have been totally supportive of me, they were in the state election."
"The students ask me lots of questions, they're certainly quite interested. It's a conversation starter, that's for sure."
And that, essentially, is one of Mr Hills' main aims - make the concerns he is so passionate about more of a talking point.
"No one likes animal cruelty," he said. "But it's hidden away and not part of the political process. In many ways it's not front page news.
"What we're trying to do is make it more part of the narrative so people are aware of it, so more can be done to improve the lives of everyone concerned."
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