Senator Raff Ciccone
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Balancing his time between Canberra and Hawthorn, Senator Raff Ciccone feels most passionate about all things local. Raff has always lived and worked in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. He grew up in Oakleigh, where he attended his local Catholic primary school and then Salesian College in Chadstone. After graduating high school in 2001, Raff studied at both Deakin and Melbourne University and completed a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts. It was around this time Raff joined the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and began working as a research officer for former senator the Hon Jacinta Collins while studying.
After graduating from university in 2008, Raff began working in the financial planning industry. He then moved into industrial relations and employment law as an industrial officer for the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA), the largest trade union in the private sector, to advocate for
Raff has been a member of the ALP for 20 years now. He was serving as vice president of the Victorian branch when a vacancy opened in the Senate and he was encouraged to run for the position. Raff became the 100th Senator to represent Victoria when he was appointed to the Senate in March 2019.
While his job involves politics at a national level, Raff said that “a lot of decisions come from feedback we receive from local community groups and individuals in the local community.” The best part of being a senator, for Raff, is “being able to meet different people and helping out with their issues” in navigating systems related to the federal government including immigration, Centrelink, and the NDIS. Sometimes, struggling locals visit his office seeking assistance to locate accommodation and welfare services. “The ability to help people is really profound,” said Raff. “To represent people in Parliament is a huge privilege."
Depending on the sitting schedule, Raff spends roughly half his year in Canberra and the other half at home attending to domestic duties. However, after the scheduled parliamentary sitting in early August was cancelled due to COVID-19, Raff opted to participate in the next fortnight's sitting remotely via teleconference from his electorate office in Melbourne. With the stress of the pandemic, especially working in Federal Government, it is important for Raff to maintain his mental health - whether that means escaping work with a good book, watching Collingwood play (when they're winning, that is), exercising, or catching up with loved ones "even if it's virtually now". "Family is a big part of my life, especially being from an Italian background," he said.
When Raff bought a home in Hawthorn some years ago now, it was the perfect middle ground between his work in the city and his electoral office in Box Hill. He sees incredible value in the local area from its “wonderful parklands”, restaurants, cafes, services and amenities such as access to public transport. He makes the most of the many parks in the area with his dog Bismarc, often walking along the Yarra trail.
When he is in Hawthorn, Raff heads out every morning to pick up a cup of coffee from one of the various local cafes to support local businesses, admitting it has become more difficult during the current pandemic. To maintain his wardrobe, Raff regularly takes his suits to Debonaires on Glenferrie Road to be dry cleaned. He also buys his meat from Glenferrie Gourmet Meats, where “they do a fantastic job in looking after their customers when it comes to the prime cuts that they offer”.
“Glenferrie has a very vibrant set of shops,” said Raff. “There are so many good small businesses in the Glenferrie strip that need our support right now, and we should all really get around them.” Raff hopes the Glenferrie Festival will be able to return next year, seeing it as the “prime example” of how the Glenferrie community comes together and supports one another. “It’s such a positive and great way to celebrate how great the local community and the area is.”