Phil Cleary is a well-known media personality and contributes regularly to the newspapers and radio. He has a national profile as a speaker and campaigner against the criminal justice system's treatment of violence against women. In 1992 he won former Prime Minister Bob Hawke's seat of Wills and remains the only independent to have ever won a seat in the federal parliament in Victoria. Before his political career, Phil taught history and politics for thirteen years in the state secondary education system. He first came to public prominence as a player and coach with Coburg Football Club in the Victorian Football Association in the 1970s and 80s.
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