At the start of this month Yamatji and Noongar woman Dorinda Cox made history by becoming Western Australia’s first Indigenous female senator. She won the Greens preselection to represent the state. Cox is a mum of two, an anti-domestic violence campaigner and former police officer. She has over 20 years experience working in government and non-government sectors, advising about social issues, policy and advocacy work. Dorinda Cox joining the senate marks an important moment in history for the representation of Indigenous peoples in WA and Australia as a whole (NITV, 2021).
Dorinda Cox. Image Courtesy of AAP, 2021.
Cox was confirmed by a joint sitting of WA Parliament on the 14th of September. That morning, accompanied by her family members and supporters, she walked from Kaarta Gar-up (Kings Park) along Fraser Avenue to Parliament. A smoking ceremony took place at the steps of Parliament House, along with the handover of the Bookah cloak to Dorinda Cox from Elders (NIT, 2021). In an interview with NIT, Cox (2021) talked about the significance of her taking on this role.
“My appointment as WA’s first female Aboriginal Senator is more than just a signal of our progressing times, it is recognition that Aboriginal people have a voice, not just because we deserve it, which we do, but because we need to challenge the systems that hold us back.”
In her new position Dorinda Cox plans to continue advocating for women’s safety issues in particular she is calling for a senate inquiry into murdered Indigenous women within her home state (NITV, 2021).
Cox has been working within advocacy and policy for years, campaigning against domestic violence and working on policy to support Indigenous women and communities. She has been a part of several delegations on gender equality at the United Nations Commission for the Status of Women. She has also chaired the National Sexual Assault Services Board after participating in the first National Action Plan in the prevention of violence against women and children (Business News, 2021). In 2013, Cox started her own business Inspire Change Consulting Group, through which she has assisted stakeholders with policy review, cultural based evaluation services and Indigenous business development. Through this business she has championed Indigenous women and worked hard at strengthening our current service systems to achieve better evidence based outcomes for First Nations people and communities (Inspire Change Consulting, 2021). This is all incredible work that she will continue to build upon in her role as a senator.
We congratulate Dorinda Cox on this incredible achievement, it is such an important step in the right direction for our government. Cox brings the current cohort for First Nations parliamentarians to seven (NITV, 2021). We hope that this group of influential figures can continue to grow and reflect our diverse population here in Australia. It is so important that Indigenous people and Indigenous women are represented within our political system.