Nova Peris – Aboriginal

Nova Peris is a descendant of the Gija people of the East Kimberley and the Yawuru people of the West Kimberley; the Iwatja & Gagudju people of West Arnhem Land.

See Nova Peris in Action


Keynote Speaker


Nova Peris OAM – Young Australian of the Year

Over the past three decades, barely a year has passed where Nova Peris has not displayed excellence in some area of her life. Certainly, she has seldom stood still, always determined to educate and re-educate, in order to give herself the best possible opportunity to not only develop her own prospects in life, but, equally as important, those of her people throughout Australia. Whether in sport, Federal Politics or any number of former and current work environments, Nova has remained at the forefront of the conversation for the best part of 30 years. In many cases, she has led the conversation. In 1997 Nova was awarded Young Australian of the Year by then Prime Minister Mr John Howard to add to her Order of Australia (OAM) title she was awarded in 1996.

Demonstrated Leadership

On 7 September 2013, Nova Peris became the first Aboriginal Woman elected to Federal Parliament, sworn in on 12 November 2013; her maiden speech highlighted the struggles facing Aboriginal people as well as her own unique life journey. As the first of many speeches Nova gave during her time in the Senate, hers was a strong, determined voice of an emerging leader who envisioned great things for her people. She was prepared to act as their voice, and she did this through various speeches on Aboriginal affairs, never shirking an issue: instead meeting it head on, with an honesty and connectivity that is sometimes absent from our political leaders.

During her three years in Federal Parliament, Nova travelled the length of Australia in her tireless endeavours to champion the causes and struggles facing Aboriginal people throughout the country. Pride in her Aboriginal identity is a vital ingredient in her fight for the rights of all people. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, she inspires young people to take pride in who they are, but she also works hard at changing attitudes throughout the Australian community.

Demonstrated Commitment

Throughout her remarkable life, Nova has seldom ceased to further educate herself. The following timeline gives an awe-inspiring insight into how determined she has been to make an impact, and it highlights her remarkable ability to educate, re-educate, and to constantly seek knowledge in all areas of life. That Nova is only 49 years old shows how committed and hard-working she has been thus far. One can only imagine how much more she has left to achieve during the remainder of her extraordinary life!

1971 – Born in Darwin.

1988 – Diploma in Aboriginal Health Promotion Aged care and Patient Transport officer for the Aboriginal an

1990 – Became a Mother when daughter Jessica was born.

1991 – AFLNT Community Development Officer

1996 – Won Gold Medal with the Hockeyroos at Atlanta Olympic Games.

1997 – Young Australian of the Year.

1998 – Won Gold Medal in 200m and 4x100m relay at Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, Medal of the Order of Australia recipient, first significant public speech, addressing the Constitutional Convention in Canberra on the subject of the republic for Australia debate, International Aboriginal Human Rights Ambassador, involved in the repatriation of Aboriginal remains from the Manchester Museum, UK.

2000 – First Olympic Torch bearer in Australian Olympic Torch Relay; Reached Semi-Fmal of 400m at Sydney Olympic Games; fourth in 4x4oom relay Final at Sydney Olympics; Inaugural board member and National Patron for Beyond Blue.

2002 – Daughter Destiny is born; National Treaty Facilitator for the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC); Actively lnvolved With the NSW  ‘Good 4 Kids-Good 4 Life’ Hunter Valley healthy eating campaign; Involved In the implementation of the Strong Community Life alcohol responsibility strategy in QLD. lnternational Human Rights Ambassador for the World Health organisation and Griffith university Youth Suicide Prevention program.

2003 – Son Jack was born; Published her autobiography, Nova-My Story

2005 – Involved in Economic Development with the Department of Families and Housing, Community Service and Aboriginal Affairs (FaHCSIA).

2006 – Development of communications strategy and implementation strategy for the Child Health Check, coordinating 104 national Aboriginal community events for the Department or Health & Aging (DoHA).

2009 – Media marketing and events coordinator With  ‘Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’ (AIATSIS).

2010 – Established three separate ‘Girls Academies on behalf of the Northern Territory Government at Nightcliff, Sanderson and Dripstone schools. Co-ordinated the ‘Learn – Earn – Legend Careers Expo. Consulted with the Kimberley Land Council; International Ambassador for Hepatitis Australia.

2011 – Co-Ordinated The Long Walk and Dreamtime at the G’ entertainment.

2012 – Established the Nova Perts Girls’ Academy (NPGA), serving the NPGA as Director and Operations Manager of this female intense mentoring program.

2013 – First Aboriginal Woman elected to Federal Parliament.

2017 – The Principle Advisor for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Involved in Sport and Recreation Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing and Community Participation, Patron for the Australian Aboriginal Doctors’ Association (AIDA); Chairperson for The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island National Sporting Hall of Fame, tasked With establishing a permanent home for the Hall of Fame, Board Member AFL Sports Ready Program.

2018 – Project Manager for VicSport, Developed and established VicSport’s reconciliation action plan (RAP) through a working group; Spearheaded the ‘I’ll Stand With You campaign on racism in sport (Including producing a five-minute documentary about safe, fair and inclusive participation in Sport for all), based on the late Olympian Peter Norman’s legacy, done in collaboration With international award-winning film maker Matt Norman (the nephew or Peter). Developed and produced two audio-visual resources one with Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) on discrimination in sport and inclusion in sport; Established the Inaugural Inclusion Award (the Peter Norman Inclusion Award) for VicSport’s awards night; Announced the NT Winner of the Australian Awards for excellence in women’s leadership, Published her second autobiography, Nova Finding My Voice, son Jack named NAIDOC Sportsman of the Year.

2019 – Principal Advisor Aboriginal and Community Engagement with Melbourne Water, a government owned statutory authority that controls much of the water system in Melbourne Including the reservoirs and the sewerage and drainage system that service the city. Appeared on reality television show Australian Survivor which was filmed over in Fiji.

2020 – Founded and Established the Nova Peris Foundation

2021 – Was honoured with a 2.6m Bronze Statue Unveiled In Fed Square, Melbourne.


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