Lidia Thorpe a very proud and staunch Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman who has a lifelong history as an activist and fighter for human rights, social justice and the environment. She is also a Mother of 3, a Grandmother 3, a Federal Senator and a survivor of Domestic Violence. Lidia joined Natasha on Standing Strong Together program’s special International Women’s Day celebration 2021, as we highlight Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.
Senator Thorpe is no stranger to being in the spotlight and making history made history just recently. In 2017, she was the first Indigenous person elected to parliament in the state of Victoria and in 2020 she became the first Indigenous female from Victoria making the Senate. It was a powerful and striking moment as thousands watched on as Senator Lidia Thorpe, draped in a possum-skin cloak entered her first day in the Australian Federal parliament with her right fist raised in a Black Power salute. In Senator Thorpe’s left hand, she carried a stick engraved with 441 stripes representing the number of Indigenous people to die in custody since a landmark Royal Commission in 1991.
She has been a mover and shaker since, representing her people and her environment in Parliament and turning heads for her staunch and sometimes outspoken ways. However 48-year-old Lidia is no stranger to the tough times. She grew up in commission estates around Melbourne, left school when she was just 14 and had her first child at age 17. Just recently she was forced to talk about being a victim of domestic violence as the media got wind of a bankruptcy and questioned this as she ran for seat in Parliament. Having to open up about a such a delicate situation was hard for the Senator as she was not ready to talk about what happened to her. However, she did discuss with the media when her hand was forced to disclose why she had to become bankrupt due to being left destitute after the family violence situation. These days Lidia talks about it with an open heart and mind and recognises that speaking up and out sends a clear message to other survivors out there that speaking up is ok and can be part of the healing process.
Listen to Senator inspiring story from commission housing, to raising a family as a teen to surviving domestic violence. Celebrating Lidia Thorpe for International Women's Day 2021