Gunnai-Kurnai and Gunditjmara woman, Lidia Thorpe, has been officially sworn in as the Greens’ Senator for Victoria.

Senator Thorpe was sworn in to Parliament on Tuesday, taking the seat of former Greens Leader, Richard Di Natale. The appointment sees her become the first Aboriginal Senator for Victoria.

The new Senator took to social media to acknowledge her historic appointment.

“If it wasn’t official before, it most certainly is now. I’m so proud to be the first Aboriginal Victorian Senator and working alongside my Greens colleagues. Thank you so much for your well wishes,” she wrote.

Lidia Thorpe with a message stick from her Country. Photo via Lidia Thorpe, Facebook.

Armed with a message stick and wearing a possum skin cloak, Senator Thorpe raised her fist to the air upon entry.

“My fist was raised as I entered the Senate chamber as an expression of my people’s strength, resilience and survival and a symbol of solidarity with all the families of Aboriginal people who have died in custody,” she wrote.

“Today I brought a message to Parliament. I carried with me a message stick bearing a single mark for each of the 441 First Nations people who have died in custody since the Royal Commission in 1991. I am determined to work hard for justice in this place, every day.

“Now it’s time to get started—I’ll be fighting for strong action on the climate crisis, to tackle the economic inequality in this system that is leaving more and more people behind and for a Treaty, so we can finally have justice for Aboriginal people in this country, and move forward together as a stronger nation.”

Senator Thorpe was also welcomed in a special ceremony by Traditional Owners at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on Ngunnawal/Ngambri Country before being sworn in. Parts of this ceremony were live streamed to her Facebook Page.

Senator Thorpe was elected to take over from Di Natale in June after a state-wide voting period which saw thousands of Victorian Greens cast ballots. The Senator was also the first Aboriginal woman elected to Victorian Parliament in 2017, when she became the Victorian Greens Member for Northcote.

By Rachael Knowles