A former ice addict who has also worked as a model and a racing driver will run for Nick Xenophon’s SA Best in the seat of Mount Gambier at the state election.
Local resident Kate Amoroso is the 31st candidate to be unveiled by the party ahead of the March poll.
The 44-year-old will contest the traditionally conservative seat in the state’s south-east against Liberal candidate Craig Marsh and Liberal-turned-independent Troy Bell, who is facing corruption charges.
Ms Amoroso grew up in Mount Gambier and is involved with volunteer programs for migrants and the elderly, as well as local efforts to tackle drug and alcohol abuse.
She has openly described her battle with drugs, which began in her teenage years and eventually spiralled into a $2,000-a-week ice addiction.
“I’m three years clean now. It was a beast to deal with,” she said.
“It was a terrible stage in my life.”
Ms Amoroso — who was a part-time model and racing driver in the 1990s and, more recently, trained to become a boxer — is expecting a fight on her hands and believes her past battles will be brought up during the campaign.
But while she acknowledges a strong stigma “around mental health and substance abuse”, she hopes her experiences will count in her favour.
“I’d like to think that down here I’ve broken some of that stigma down,” she said.
“I think we need to get a balance in Parliament … what better person to be in Parliament than someone who’s lived this sort of life?
“I certainly have a good understanding of substance abuse and would like to see some good strong policy in place.”
Mr Xenophon described Ms Amoroso as an “inspiration” to others facing similar changes.
“Kate has turned her life — after battling substance abuse — around in the past few years and become a model citizen,” the SA Best leader said.
The Mount Gambier region has battled ice problems of its own in recent years, being dubbed the state’s “ice capital” and becoming the first stop on the national ice task force schedule.
Ms Amoroso said improving the quality of the local health system was a priority, and has also spoken in favour of a 10-year moratorium on fracking in the region.