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Citizenship

First Aboriginal Woman is Elected to State Parliament in Australia

The Greens' Lidia Thorpe has made history after becoming the first Indigenous woman elected to Victorian Parliament.

Thorpe defeated Labor candidate Clare Burns, with a swing of more than 11%.

Locals voted in the by-election in the inner-city seat of Northcote in Victoria, with the results announced on Saturday night.

The election was called after Labor minister Fiona Richardson, who previously held the seat, passed away after her battle with cancer in August. The seat has been held by Labor for the past 90 years. It is the first time Labor has lost a Victorian by-election since 1948.

Thorpe is a businesswoman and chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee and has been involved in the state's treaty discussions since the beginning.

“We said we’d make history and we did,” said Thorpe in a post on Facebook. “I am so proud to be the first Aboriginal woman in the Victorian Parliament.”

“As a kid who left school at 14, I can’t tell you what it means to take my place as a strong Aboriginal voice at the heart of our Victorian Parliament,” Thorpe continued. “Tonight, and throughout this campaign, I’ve received so many messages from Aboriginal people, not just in Victoria but all over this country who are sharing this moment. You cannot underestimate what this means to so many people.”

The Victorian Greens now hold three seats in inner Melbourne and are hoping to win Richmond and Brunswick, both seats currently held by Labor, in the 2018 elections.

But Burns said her defeat in Northcote is in no way an indicator of what’s to come.

“We’ll be back,” she said on Saturday night. “Labor will be back in Northcote, make no mistake.”