Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman, Senator Lidia Thorpe, is thrilled to have been handed the responsibility of the First Nations portfolio in the Greens reshuffle.
“I’m very proud to be the first Aboriginal Senator for Victoria and to take on the First Nations portfolio. There is so much work to be continued,” she said.
“I come from a long line of strong Aboriginal women who taught me to stand up for what’s right and to never let injustice and racism beat you down. If you want change, you have to fight for it.”
The recent Black Lives Matter movement has been a turning point in the way many Australians see issues affecting First Nations people. Senator Thorpe said it is time to harness the growing energy of our allies and turn it into real, lasting change.
“Right now, we stand at a crossroads, as a nation and as a global community. A global movement has taken to the streets to demand that Black Lives Matter. People from all backgrounds coming together, united by the conviction that your identity or background should not limit your potential, your safety or your life expectancy,” Senator Thorpe said.
“Black Lives Matter needs to be more than a trending hashtag. It must be a line in the sand. We cannot turn our heads any longer.
“Everyone should be able to live their lives being treated equally and fairly, and given a chance to thrive, regardless of their race. But that’s not the case for Aboriginal people in this country.”
“Hundreds of Aboriginal people have died in police custody and no one has been held to account. Aboriginal literacy and health track well below the rest of the population. Aboriginal children are still being removed from their families. Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated population on the planet – including kids as young as 10 years old.
“We need to address the systemic racism that cuts lives short and leaves Aboriginal people falling behind. A just Nation means justice for all, including First Nations people.”
Senator Thorpe will be taking over the portfolio from Senator Rachel Siewert, who has held it for many years and fought hard on behalf of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
“I’d like to say a particular thank you to Senator Rachel Siewert, who held the First Nations portfolio before me and has been fighting for the rights of my people for many years.
“Rachel has been a staunch ally and has achieved so much – the respect you’ve earned is well justified Rachel, I’m proud to now stand with you in Parliament as we continue the fight together.”
Senator Thorpe’s priorities in the portfolio will be:
Treaty to right the wrongs of this Nation’s past and move forward together
An end to deaths in custody and the mass incarceration of First Nations peoples, by investing in community, not prisons
Raising the age of criminal responsibility to stop any Australian child as young as 10 being jailed
Caring for country and ensuring consent from First Nations people so corporations like Rio Tinto can’t destroy land, water and sacred sites
Tackling the climate crisis by implementing the solutions we already know will work, getting this country to transition out of coal, oil & gas and into clean energy
Addressing the systemic racism that costs lives and opportunities for people in this country and leaves people falling behind
Reversing entrenched economic inequality that this pandemic has highlighted – ensuring everyone has an income they can live on, that we provide health, education, housing, mental health and essential services to everyone – not just those who can afford it.
Lidia Thorpe is a mother and grandmother from the Gunnai and Gunditjmara nations. She was the first Aboriginal woman in the Victorian parliament, is the first Aboriginal Senator for Victoria and first federal Aboriginal MP for the Greens.
Lidia will be sworn in to Federal Parliament during the October sitting, pandemic allowing, and will give her first speech in the following weeks.