Nova Maree Peris OAM (born 25 February 1971) is an indigenous Australian athlete and politician. As part of the Australian women's hockey (Hockeyroos) team at the 1996 Olympic Games, she was the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. She later switched to athletics and contested the 1998 Commonwealth Games and 2000 Olympic Games. She was elected to the Australian Senate at the 2013 federal election, after then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard named her as a "captain's pick", installing her as the preselected Labor candidate over incumbent Labor senator Trish Crossin.


 [hide*1 Sporting career

Sporting career[edit]Edit

Peris 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.[1]

In 1997, she switched sports to athletics and a year later she became a double gold medalist in the 1998 Commonwealth Games (Kuala Lumpur) winning the 200m sprint with a time of 22.77 seconds and sharing in Australia's 4x100 metres relay win. Peris was named Young Australian of the Year in 1997.[2]

Peris continued to represent Australia on the athletics track, running over 200 metres at the 1999 World Athletics Championships and 400 metres at theSydney Olympics in 2000. She made the Olympic semi-finals in her individual event and ran in the Australian 4x400 metres relay team, which made the final, finishing fifth.

In the Olympic year of 2000, a portrait of her was hung in the Sporting Archibald Prize, painted by Glenda Jones

In 2005, she sold her Olympic memorabilia to the National Museum of Australia for $140,000.[3] It included her gold medal, hockey stick, Sydney Olympic torch and the running shoes she wore in the Sydney Olympics.[4]

Personal life[edit]Edit

Peris was born in Darwin, Northern Territory. She met Sean Kneebone when she was 17, they had a daughter in 1990, and married in 1995. Following their divorce[5] in 2001, she returned to using her maiden name, Peris, and then married Daniel Batman in March 2002;[5] they separated in 2010.[6] Batman died in a car crash in June 2012.[7] Peris married Scott Appleton on August 12, 2012. Peris has three children: Jessica (with Kneebone), Destiny and Jack (with Batman), and became a grandmother at the age of 40.[8]

Peris' autobiography, Nova: My Story was released on 4 April 2003.[5][9]


On 22 January 2013 the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced she would invite Peris to join the Australian Labor Party and stand as a candidate for the Senate in the Northern Territory at the 2013 election.[10] On 29 January 2013 her preselection was endorsed by the ALP executive 19 votes to 2, meaning her name was placed first on the ALP's senate ticket in the Northern Territory, supporting the likelihood she would become Australia's first female Indigenous federal parliamentarian.[11]

On 7 September 2013 Peris became Australia's first indigenous woman elected to federal parliament.[12] Peris was sworn into parliament on 12 November, and noted the apology to the stolen generation in her maiden speech.[13][14]

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