Ngaree Ah Kit became the first Aboriginal female speaker of house in Australia after being elected to the speaker’s chair in the Northern Territory parliament earlier this month.
The Labor Member for Karama was initially elected to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in the 2016 election and has worked as the Assistant Minister for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health, Disability, Youth and Seniors.
Ms Ah Kit told NITV News that she first decided to enter politics because of her desire to “save lives” and her passion for providing a better quality of life for the people of her electorate.
With Labor now entering its second term in government in the NT, Ms Ah Kit said she hoped to bring the goals from her first time into fruition.
“I push hard for a safety and wellbeing viewpoint in politics. I never set out to be a speaker, I wanted to be the Minister and ultimate decision-maker, but if I can’t be a Minister in the second term I want to do more than I would as a backbencher, which is why I stepped up and expressed my desire to be a deputy speaker,” she said.
Ms Ah Kit is the daughter of former Labor member for Arnhem, Jack Ah Kit, who was the first ever Indigenous minister in the NT between 1995 and 2005.
Ms Ah Kit said her father’s death, which came during her election campaign, was a personal tragedy that motivated her success, although she said she continued to struggle with it.
“A couple of weeks before my dad passed he told me not to be a minister. He said put your hand up and be speaker. He joked that you get the same money but less headaches. He was always jovial like that.
“My father, and my mother, raised me to be tough. I used my tragedy to spur me on and remind me that I needed to get back in and continue serving my people because I honestly believe that I am the best person to do so,” said Ms Ah Kit.
Ms Ah Kit said her grassroots approach to the issue of mental health was driven by her passion for ensuring that Indigenous suicide prevention was tackled the "Indigenous way".
Her extensive work in suicide prevention has previously been recognised with a nomination in the Young Australian of the Year awards in 2009, and as a finalist in Australia’s Local Hero award in 2016.
“I wanted to drive our own agenda to ensure our people are cared for our way,” Ms Ah Kit said.
After being elected as speaker in July, Ms Ah Kit told ABC News that she was honoured but hoped to see other Aboriginal representatives in parliament.
“I worry that this will never occur anywhere else across Australia and I really hope Australians prove me wrong," she said at the time.
Ms Ah Kit was elected NT's deputy speaker alongside Chansey Paech, the MLA Member for Namatjira, who was elected as the first Indigenous Speaker of an Australian Parliament.
Ms Ah Kit told NITV News that she was proud to witness the NT leading the way in terms of groundbreaking representation in its parliament.