Today the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced Nova Peris, OAM, as the preferred Labor NT candidate for the Senate. This is a significant day for all women and girls in Australia as Nova will potentially be the first Aboriginal woman in Federal Parliament.
This is outstanding news.
Today Nova, supported by husband Scott and two of her three kids, Destiny (10) and Jack (9) stood in front of the media with the Prime Minister and humbly accepted the role. Jess, Nova's eldest child (21) was back in Darwin running the Nova Peris Girls Academy at St Johns College http://www.stjohnsnt.catholic.edu.au/about.php?id=56.
After the announcement today there was a number of questions from the media and public about Nova's experience beyond being a household name ex-Olympian.
I am very priveleged to have a close relationships with Nova, Scott and the kids, so I wanted to publicly share a number of Nova's achievements beyond athletics, which provide strong evidence that she is an excellent candidate for a Federal political role.
Over the last 15 years, Nova has worked extensively in community in roles of:
Set up 3 ‘Girls Academies’ on behalf of the Northern Territory Government – Nightcliff, Sanderson & Dripstone
Nova has also been the Vice President of Northern Territory Hockey, is acknowledged in the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island Hall of Fame and has written an autobiography “Nova – My Story”. Nova was named Young Australian of the Year in 1997 and was also awarded an Order of Australia Medal.
And of course, there are Nova's sporting achievements which cannot and should not be ignored....
Nova was a representative in the Australian Women's Hockey team at the 1996 Summer Olympics, becoming the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. In 1997, Nova became a double gold medalist in the 1998 Commonwealth Games winning the 200m sprint and sharing in Australia's 4x100 metres relay win. Nova continued to represent Australia on the athletics track, running over 200 metres at the 1999 World Athletics Championships and 400 metres at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Nova made the Olympic semi-finals in her individual event and ran in the Australian 4x400 metres relay team, which finished fifth.
But perhaps the most extraordinary achievement Nova has had that is the establishment of the Nova Peris Girls Academy (NGPA) in St Johns College, Darwin.
Over the last 3 years Nova has spent extensive time researching global best-in-class models of mentoring, supporting, educating and engaging young Indigenous girls. She then set up the NGPA which is an innovative female focused school ‘Life Excellence’ program aimed at keeping Aboriginal Girls’ engaged with education.
The NGPA is viewed as an intensive attendance, attainment and life skills development program. It utilises a range of learning tools developed by the South African Institute of Entrepreneurship customised exclusively for the NPGA.
These educational tools and mentoring methodologies encourage Aboriginal girls to develop the skills that are necessary to build their capacity whilst promoting and equipping the girls to take control of their own futures and fulfil their potential.
In the last 12 months at St Johns College about 80 Indigenous girls have had their lives supported and improved by Nova, Scott and Jess.
So, beyond being an athlete, Nova is a passionate advocate and supporter of Indigenous people, with extensive experience working with Aboriginal young people in remote and urban communities.
And in my assessment - Nova is one of the most well rounded, strong, sincere and hard working Australians I have ever met.
But beyond this - Nova is highly intelligent, exceptional at designing and delivering programs to improve individual's lives and communities, and will make an exceptional politician.