10 Sep 2013

Nova Peris notches up another first

6:44 am on 10 September 2013

A Maori rights advocate based in Australia says the Aboriginal community appears nervous about the role the first indigenous woman MP will play in the federal parliament.

Darwin-born Nova Peris will take her place in the Senate, representing the Northern Territory for Labor, after winning the seat in the federal elections during the weekend.

Erina Anderson, of Ngapuhi, says Aboriginal elders she has spoken to seem quite uneasy about what portfolio Ms Peris will be given.

The indigenous community is happy about Ms Peris entering parliament but is holding its breath because it does not know what she will be allowed to do, Ms Anderson says.

But there is a sense of hope among Australian Aboriginals that Ms Peris will be representing them on their behalf, and she will be able to make a difference, she says.

Ms Peris' rise to federal politics follows a successful sporting career; she was the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal, as part of the women's hockey at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

She followed that in 1998 with golds in the women's 200m and the 4x100m women's relay team at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, making her the only Australian athlete to win Olympic gold in one sport and Commonwealth Games gold in another.