Nova Peris has faced the media for the first time since her shock decision to leave politics.
Despite announcing her exit from the Senate earlier in the week, Ms Peris was on the campaign trail with Labor leader Bill Shorten at a Sorry Day event in Darwin on Thursday.
Under pressure to explain why she resigned during an election campaign, Ms Peris said she’d left on her terms.
“I may be leaving but I am leaving on my terms and I want to make this clear: no one should judge me,” Ms Peris told journalists at a Sorry Day event.
“I'm a 45-year-old woman. I’m sure you don't go around every day justifying the things that you do.”
The former Olympian continued to defend her resignation, saying she’d done it for her family.
As the first female Aboriginal member of federal parliament she had broken ground for Labor "in my own backyard" of the Northern Territory.
She thanked Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Lingiari MP Warren Snowdon and Senator Pat Dodson, and said they would achieve the vision of indigenous people.
"I want to acknowledge the work of the Australian Labor Party for the work they have done in trying to elevate and empower the lives of Aboriginal people, but that will not stop until Aboriginal people are treated as equals in this country," Senator Peris said.
Mr Shorten said Labor had been lucky to have her "energy and commitment" in the senate for the last three years and that she had the party's full blessing.
Her accomplishments were not diminished by the departure, he said, pointing out that 25 other politicians had announced their retirement in the past few weeks.
"I rate her, she's a top human being," he said.
"I think it takes a great deal of personal dignity to know when you think it's time to finish one part of your career and do other things."
Mr Shorten also applauded her decision to look after her family.
"The fact that she is prioritising her family at this point in her life reflects another attribute she is too modest to say. But I want to put on the record, I reckon Nova Peris is a great mum as well," he said.
No words on Peris’ future
Nova Peris was parachuted into the Senate in 2013 under the Gillard Government.
She is the first Aboriginal woman to enter the Federal Parliament.
Earlier this week, there were media reports the Northern Territorian was leaving politics to take up an Indigenous role with the AFL.
Ms Peris gave no hints as to what she would be doing next in life.
“I hope that my next journey in my life I'm able to make significant changes, but also continue that impact I’ve made in inspiring not only Aboriginal people but also young Australians to also get out and live their dreams,” she said.
- with AAP