Dorinda Cox becomes first Aboriginal woman to represent WA in federal senate

Dorinda Cox becomes first Aboriginal woman to represent WA in federal senate

Dorinda Cox

Yamatji and Noongar woman Dorinda Cox has become the first Aboriginal woman to represent Western Australia in the federal senate.

Cox was sworn in to the senate on Monday, after winning the Greens’ preselection to replace retired senator, Rachel Siewert.

Cox’s entrance to the parliament takes the number of Indigenous people currently in the federal parliament to seven. She was sworn in to the senate wearing a Booka (kangaroo cloak), and was supported by Greens Senators Lidia Thorpe, and Mehreen Faruqi.

Cox grew up in Western Australia, and spent the early years of her career in the state’s police force, after joining as a cadet at 17 years of age.

In a video posted by the Greens on social media, Cox said to be the first Aboriginal woman to the senate from Western Australia is an “absolute privilege and honour”.

“In 2021, we’ve never had anybody represent us at the highest level of government,” she said.

“I was born into a family that had five generations of children that have been taken. First Nations children are being removed at alarming rates. And when you think about generations of First Nations people who have experienced the oppression that occurs in our communities, having a First Nations senator matters to them.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever be an Australian senator and I think that having First Nations people leading conversation can benefit everybody in the community. It’s the way that you are grounded in the community’s values.”

Senator Lidia Thorpe, who last year made history as the first Aboriginal person from Victoria to enter the federal senate, said what an honour it was to have Cox with her in the parliament.

“What an honour to walk beside another deadly sister as she enters parliament, I’m so excited to have staunch Blak woman @dorinda_cox sitting beside me in the Senate,” Thorpe shared on Twitter.

Cox is a mother of two, and a small business owner. She has over 20 years’ experience working in government and non-government sectors. She was an Australian government representative at delegations on gender equality at the United Nations Commission for the Status of Women in New York at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation in Peru and also UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Thailand. 

She has also made an impact on social policy, having chaired the National Sexual Assault Services Board and participated in the first National Action Plan for Violence against Women and Children.

Dorinda Cox will make her maiden speech to parliament at 5pm (AEST) on Tuesday.

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