You’d be forgiven for thinking that Australian politics was an absolute rabble right now. From Berejiklian to the federal budget, there’s been no shortage of bloopers.
But amid the chaos, there’s been some brilliant, history-making moments recently.
Last week, Lidia Thorpe became the first Indigenous woman to join the federal Senate for the Greens, and today, Sheena Watt has broken the glass ceiling to become Labor’s first female Aboriginal MP in the Victorian Parliament.
Speaking to The Age last week, Watt said she was focused on ensuring that Aboriginal people were given a voice and platform.
“I’ve spent my entire time focusing on breaking down barriers inside the party … and having the voices of Aboriginal people heard,” the proud Yorta Yorta woman said.
“This work needs to continue. It’s something that will continue to be a priority for me as an MP. I think about the Aboriginal activists in the Labor Party who’ve reached out to me over the past few days and showed me so much support.”
At 36, Watt will also be one of the youngest MPs, replacing former Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos.
In a Tweet at lunch time, Watt said she was grateful her mum was able to join her for the moment she described as ‘an honour’.
Watt has been open about her “tough life” growing up and the strong relationship she shared with her mother, revealing in last week’s interview that she and her family were forced to move frequently because of income insecurity. When she was twelve, she and her sister joined their mother to care full time for their father who had a disability.
“That meant secure housing was tough to come by and we worked really hard during those years,” she says. During COVID, in which the care industry has taken an astronomical hit, Watt reminisced about her own experience and formed a fierce resolve to help shift the system.
“It’s something that’s really driven me the last little while and I’ve been thinking about the huge burden on carers during COVID.
“The truth is, for me representation matters and it’s not just about cultural diversity, but diversity of experience. I’ve been a carer, had some adversity, hardship and disadvantage in my life. Having members of Parliament who have had that lived experience is very important,” she said.
Sworn into the house this afternoon, and representing the northern metropolitan region, Watt is said to have received a standing ovation.