• Nova Peris with her family and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Today marked the official welcome of Australia’s first Indigenous female politician into national parliament.
By
Malarndirri McCarthy

Source:
NITV News
12 Nov 2013 - 4:48 PM  UPDATED 12 Nov 2013 - 10:47 PM

Senator for the Northern Territory, Nova Peris was sworn in alongside three other senators in Canberra today at the official opening of the new Abbott government.

She was also joined by family and friends who travelled all the way from the Top End to witness the official welcome.

"It's special, and quite often I find, as well in sports, when I've achieved big things it takes a while to sink in," Ms Peris told NITV News.

"It was an incredible moving moment today especially being sworn in, being welcomed by my fellow colleagues, it was an incredible day."

Senator Peris believes her past in elite sport will help prepare her for the brutal world of politics.

She says she won't be a ‘one-term wonder’ and has high expectations on what can be achieved, particularly for Indigenous Australians.

“We're a minority population, we're the custodians of this country, yet we hold the biggest issues when it comes to incarceration, health, education, chronic diseases.

"You can’t sit still for the next three years and say nothing. I'm going to be a person who will work with people for the betterment of Aboriginal people,” says Ms Peris.

She was first greeted by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during the Indigenous welcome to country ceremony, where both Peris and Indigenous Member for the House of Representatives, Ken Wyatt, presented Mr Abbott with a fighting boomerang.

This gift is a symbolic reminder for the Abbott Government of how hard they must fight to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.

“It was a real privilege when [Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder] Matilda House passed it to me to give the Prime Minister the fighting boomerang," Ms Peris said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accompanied Prime Minister Abbott at today's ceremonial occasion to outline Parliament's vision for Indigenous Affairs, and both governments say the push for Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution will be a major priority.

Senator Peris is set to deliver her maiden speech to Federal Parliament tomorrow.