Youngest Ever Australian Senator with a Disability Sworn into Australian Parliament
Passionate advocate for youth and disability issues
At the age of 23, Jordon Steele-John has become the youngest ever member of Parliament.
He is the Greens’ second new senator and will replace Scott Ludlam as senator for Western Australia.
That's not the only first Steele-John has accomplished — he has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He is also the first person with a disability to sit in the Upper House.
Steele-John is a passionate advocate for those living with a disability.
"One of the things I'm hoping and excited to do is to bring those lived experiences and those different perspectives into the institution," he told 2SER-FM.
"When we have diversity in that decision-making process then we get good legislation."
He didn’t take the decision to enter parliament lightly, it was a decision he considered for a full week.
"I've spent the last six years talking about youth and disability issues and I'm incredibly excited to take that voice and lived experience into the Parliament.
He is not the first Member of Parliament to use a wheelchair. Up until 2007 Labor MP Graham Edwards, who lost his legs during the Vietnam War, also cruised the halls of Parliament in his wheelchair.
However the building is still said to not be adequately equipped. Staff at Parliament House have been installing ramps throughout the building and making adjustments to Senator Steele-John’s office to ensure mobility.
And yet, the leader of the Greens Richard di Natale pointed out that there are still some obstacles including the narrow doorframes and thick carpet that slows the newly sworn in senator down.
"For a building that's only 30 years old, it's remarkable that it takes someone like Jordon to come into the parliament to demonstrate it's completely unsuitable for someone with a disability," he said.
"The nearest [disabled] toilets are a long way away — just getting along the carpet has proved to be a huge problem." said Senator di Natale
Steele-John will be taking a break from Macquarie University where he has been a student of politics during his time in Parliament.
It’s been reported that he had an interest in politics from a very young age. He says the moment that made him sign up as a Greens member at the young age of 16 was when Australia signed the asylum seeker deal with Malaysia back in 2011.
At the age of just 18 he ran in his first Federal election as the Greens Candidate for Freemantle in Western Australia. During that election campaign he said in a promotional video shared on Facebook, "I joined the Greens because I think it's important that we act to stop the worst effects of climate change."
Read more: Australian Lawmaker Becomes First Woman to Breastfeed in Parliament
"To hit the ground, well, if not running, then moving in a rapid direction." he told the ABC.
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