• Former Olympic and Commonwealth Games medalist Nova Peris with Former PM Julia Gilllard
Nova Peris has made history by becoming the first Indigenous woman ever elected into Federal Parliament.
Source:
NITV News
9 Sep 2013 - 5:13 PM  UPDATED 9 Sep 2013 - 7:21 PM

Nova Peris has made history by becoming the first Indigenous woman ever elected into Federal Parliament.

Ms Peris, who secured a Senate seat for the Australian Labor Party in the Northern Territory, said she always backed herself to win.

The Olympic gold medallist is a member of the Kiga people of the East Kimberley, Yawuru people of the West Kimberley and Muran people of West Arnhem Land.

Speaking from her home town of Darwin, the former Olympian said her race for the Senate wasn't easy.

"You talk about values and working, and when you work hard you strive for success and you’re going to have opportunities along the way. I had that and I take nothing for granted in life, and I know that you can’t climb mountains without hard work,” she said.

Ms Peris was controversially hand-picked by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard to replace veteran politician, Trish Crossan.

Ms Peris said she's no stranger to big challenges or big occasions since establishing a successful career in athletics and winning a gold medal with the Hockeyroos at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"When we first had this discussion in December we thought long and hard about it and I thought, 'can I do it?'," she said.

"Sometimes in life you’ve just got to back yourself. I’ve got a bit of a history with backing myself with my sporting career."

Former NSW senator Aden Ridgeway was the first Indigenous person to be elected as a parliamentary leader with the Australian Democrats and agreed it was a significant achievement.

"It’s significant because not only is she the first Aboriginal woman to be elected but I think also, a young person of her stature and certainly coming from the Northern Territory, she’ll have a lot to say about issues in the north," Mr Ridgeway said.