Former Olympian senator Nova Peris is leaving politics

Nova Peris in 2001. Photo: Getty Images

Aboriginal Labor senator Nova Peris is stepping down from the senate and looks likely to become the AFL’s new head of diversity.

Senator Peris, who became the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal as a member of the women’s hockey team at the 1996 Olympics, has just announced she’s quitting politics at the double dissolution election on July 2.

Peris was former prime minister Julia Gillard’s “captain’s pick” for Labor in the Northern Territory at the 2013 election. She was the first Aboriginal woman in parliament.

Here’s her statement:

After careful deliberation with my family, I have chosen not to re-contest my Senate seat in the upcoming Federal election.

It is my intention that I will serve out my term and fully support and endorse my replacement for the number one position on the Labor Senate ticket, whoever that might be.

As a Northern Territory Senator, it has been an incredible honour and privilege to serve and work hard for all of my constituents in the NT.

As the first Aboriginal female in Federal politics as well as the Labor Party’s first Aboriginal member in Federal Parliament I certainly had challenges, but none that I couldn’t handle or was not prepared for, having already lived a very public and documented life.

Australia is a great multicultural nation that I have been proud to represent – in sport and politics – over the past 16 years.

I reject – like most Australians – the racism that Aboriginal people still have to contend with in this country.

As a champion of change I will continue to fight racism and prejudice.

I am pleased to see that the Labor Party has committed to affirmative action, endorsing six Aboriginal candidates for this Federal election.

I look forward to witnessing my Uncle, Senator Pat Dodson, holding ministerial office. He would be a great Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

I wish our leaders Bill Shorten in the House of Representatives and Penny Wong in the Senate all the best as well as all of my caucus colleagues and mates for this upcoming Federal election.

Special thanks to Mark Butler and George Wright for their vision and especially my own staff who supported me so well and also took up the fight for the NT.

To the NT Labor party members, I’m truly grateful for your faith in me which saw my 2016 Senate nomination elected unopposed for a second term.

I had never envisaged myself becoming a career politician.

I want to thank all the people who have made contact with me to thank me for my efforts over the past three to four years.

I’m now moving on and personally looking forward to the next chapter and journey of my life.

I will not be making any further comments on my decision to not re-contest.

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