First Aboriginal woman in Victorian Parliament : “There’s a fire in my belly for justice”
Lidia Thorpe, the first-ever Aboriginal woman to be elected in Victoria, gave her debut speech in Parliament today.
Dozens of people gathered on the steps of Parliament House as Aboriginal Elders conducted a traditional smoking ceremony before the speech.
Lidia Thorpe, the Member for Northcote, is a Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman, who is living on Wurundjeri Country. She’s a community worker, mother, small business owner, and environmentalist.
During the speech, Thorpe promised to fight for public housing, education, the environment, and Aboriginal rights.
She spoke about growing up in public housing and about how it is being threatened by private developers in Northcote. “One of the most important jobs in this parliament is to look after the vulnerable in our community… Everyone deserves a save place to call home.”
Thorpe went on to emphasise the importance of protecting country, tackling climate change, and standing up to mining companies. She called for the need to protect forests and create a Great Forest National Park.
“There’s a fire in my belly for justice, equality, and protecting country. I will bring that to this Parliament.”
She highlighted the importance of having an Aboriginal representative in Parliament. “I cannot separate my culture from my politics… being Aboriginal is not all that I am, but it is the centre of who I am.” She told the story of how her ancestors from Gippsland were shot at, poisoned, and forced from their land, as a part of colonisation.
Thorpe promises to be a voice for Aboriginal people. “There is a trauma passed down through generations, entrenched by a society who does not see our humanity and treats us only as a problem to be fixed… We are the custodians of this land and the oldest living culture in the world. We must be heard.”
“For those who feel they’re not being counted, for those who have lost the will to fight, and for those who are no longer with us, I will be that voice, I will fight for you.”
Photo : smoking ceremony, Lidia Thorpe (in black dress with necklace).
Read this article in French here.