Natasha Stott Despoja
Natasha Stott Despoja
|Australia Ambassador for|
Women and Girls
16 December 2013 – 21 November 2016
|Preceded by||Penny Williams|
|Succeeded by||Sharman Stone|
|7th Leader of the Australian Democrats|
6 April 2001 – 21 August 2002
|Preceded by||Meg Lees|
|Succeeded by||Brian Greig|
|6th Deputy Leader of the|
15 October 1997 – 6 April 2001
|Preceded by||Meg Lees|
|Succeeded by||Aden Ridgeway|
|Senator for South Australia|
29 November 1995 – 30 June 2008
|Preceded by||John Coulter|
Natasha Jessica Stott Despoja
9 September 1969
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
|Alma mater||University of Adelaide|
(National Union of Students)
Natasha Jessica Stott Despoja AO (born 9 September 1969) is an Australian politician, diplomat, advocate and author. She is the founding Chair of the Board of Our Watch, the national foundation to prevent violence against women and their children, and was previously the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 2013 to 2016. She was also a Member of the World Bank Gender Advisory Council from 2015 to 2017 and a Member of the United Nations High Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents in 2017. She is a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Stott Despoja began her parliamentary career after being appointed to the Senate at the age of 26 serving as an Australian Democrats Senator for South Australia from 1995 to 2008. She went on to serve as the Deputy Leader and Leader of the Australian Democrats. She holds the record for being the youngest woman to sit in the Parliament of Australia and the longest serving Australian Democrats Senator.
Early life and education
Stott Despoja was born in Adelaide to Shirley Stott Despoja, an Australian-born journalist and Mario Despoja, who was from Croatia (then part of Yugoslavia). She attended Stradbroke Primary and Pembroke School and later graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1991. She was President of the Students' Association of the University of Adelaide (SAUA) and the South Australian Women's Officer for the National Union of Students. She then went on to work as a political advisor to Senator John Coulter and Senator Cheryl Kernot.
When John Coulter had to stand down for health reasons in 1995, Stott Despoja was the successful candidate to replace him. Her performance was recognized when she was re-elected not only in the 1996 election the following year, but again in the 2001 election. In 1997 she had been promoted to become the deputy leader of the Democrats from her position as party spokesperson for parliamentary portfolios such as Science and Technology, Higher Education, IT, Employment & Youth Affairs.
During the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislation in 1999, Stott Despoja, along with Andrew Bartlett, split from the party's other senators by opposing the package, which had been negotiated by Lees and prime minister John Howard. She said that she refused to break promises made by the party during the election. The party had gone to the election stating that they would work with whichever party formed government to improve their tax package. The Australian Democrats traditionally permitted parliamentary representatives to cast a conscience vote on any issue but, on this occasion, close numbers in the Senate placed greater pressure than usual on the dissenters.
In 2004, Stott Despoja took 11 weeks' leave from the Senate following the birth of her first child before returning to full duties as Democrat spokesperson on, inter alia, Higher Education, Status of Women, and Work and Family.
During her political career she also introduced 24 Private Member's Bills on issues including paid maternity leave, the Republic, genetic privacy, stem cells, captioning and same sex marriage. Stott Despoja regularly attends the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
On 22 October 2006, after undergoing emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, she announced that she would not be contesting the 2007 election to extend her term beyond 30 June 2008. She was the Australian Democrats' longest-serving senator. Her retirement coincided with the ending of her party's federal parliamentary representation; the Democrats' support had collapsed after 2002 and they won no seats at the 2004 and 2007 half-senate elections.
Stott Despoja became the leader of her party on 6 April 2001. The preceding leader Meg Lees left the party in the following year. Stott Despoja faced criticism with calm resolution from Democrat senators and the general public, but she opted to resign on 21 August 2002 after 16 months. She had been faced with little alternative after four of her six colleagues - the so-called "Gang of Four" - forced a ten-point reform agenda upon her. The agenda was proposed by John Cherry and she was opposed to its content.
Her colleagues were apparently stunned by the resignation, but shouldn't have been. Four of them had brought the crisis to a head, forcing Stott Despoja to accept a package of reforms she was utterly opposed to.
She announced her resignation in a speech to the Senate, concluding with a "pledge to bring the party back home to the members again", and referring to her colleagues' attitude towards her.
One colleague, Senator Murray, has said that he does not believe in ultimatums, yet one of his earliest communiques to the public and to me was to 'shape up or ship out'. Some commentators have mistaken my relative public silence for weak leadership – my refusal to strike back aggressively, particularly in the public domain, as weakness. But I still believe that politics can be a civil discourse, and I choose not to inflame with returned invective.
She was a board member of non-profit organisations the South Australian Museum (SAM) from 2009 to 2013; the Museum of Australian Democracy (MOAD) from 2010 to 2013; and the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) from 2008 to 2013. She was a deputy chair at beyondblue (Australia's national depression initiative). She has been an ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA), The Orangutan Project (TOP); Cancer Australia; secondbite; and the HIV/AIDS anti-stigma campaign, ENUF, (along with her husband Ian Smith).
She was on the board of the Burnet Institute (Australia's largest virology and communicable disease research institute) from 2008 until December 2013, when Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced the appointment of Stott Despoja as Australia's new Ambassador for Women and Girls, a role she held until 2016. This involved visiting some 45 countries to promote women's economic empowerment and leadership and to help reduce violence against women and girls.
Stott Despoja has also been an election observer for the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Nigeria (2011); visited Burkina Faso for Oxfam (2012); and went to Laos (2011) and Burma (2013) with The Burnet Institute. She was mentioned in June 2014 as a possible replacement for Kevin Scarce as the next Governor of South Australia, however Hieu Van Le was chosen.
On 21 July 2015, Stott Despoja returned to the Burnet Institute as a Patron.
In July 2013, Stott Despoja was the founding chair of Our Watch, originally named Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children, and as of April 2019[update] still occupies this position. A joint initiative of the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments, the organisation is based in Melbourne.
As of April 2019[update] she is still a columnist for The Advertiser and an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at The University of Adelaide. In 2010, she taught winter school at The University of Adelaide with former Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, "The Practice of Australian Politics".
In November 2020, Stott Despoja was elected to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, becoming the first Australian member in 28 years.
Stott Despoja has authored a large number of essays, reports and non-fiction works on a range of topics, both during and since her political career.
In March 2019 she published On Violence, with the publisher's blurb asking "Why is violence against women endemic, and how do we stop it?". Stott Despoja posits that violence against women is "Australia's national emergency", with one woman dying at the hands of her partner or someone she knows every week. This violence is preventable, and that we need to "create a new normal".
Honours and accolades
Despoja was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2011 for her "service to the Parliament of Australia, particularly as a Senator for South Australia, through leadership roles with the Australian Democrats, to education, and as a role model for women".
In June 2019 Despoja was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia for her "distinguished service to the global community as an advocate for gender equality, and through roles in a range of organisations".
- Giving Generously (Artemis, 1996)
- DIY Feminism (Allen and Unwin, 1996)
- Collective Wisdom: Interviews with Prominent Australians (Clown, 1998)
- Free East Timor: Australia's Culpability in East Timor's Genocide (Random House, 1998)
- Goodbye normal gene: Confronting the Genetic Revolution (Pluto Press, 1999)
- What Women Want (Random House, 2002)
- Time for a Change: Australia in the 21st Century (Hardie Grant, 2006)
- Mother Who? Personal Stories and Insights on Juggling Family, Work and Life (Big Sky, 2007)
- On Violence (Melbourne University Press, March 2019)
Essays and reporting
- 'Higher Education in Perspective', Current Affairs Bulletin, 1996
- 'Personal and Private', Alternative Law Journal, 1997
- 'Policy forum: the Junior Pay Rates Inquiry', Australian Economic Review, 1999
- 'Leadership', Sydney Papers, 2001
- 'Terror in the USA', The Asia-Australia Papers, 2001
- 'The Human Genome Project: how do we protect Australians?', Medical Journal ofAustralia, 2000
- 'ANZUS? ANZ who?' (with Senator Andrew Bartlett), Australian Journal ofInternational Affairs, 2001
- 'Towards a National Interest Commissioner', CEDA Bulletin, 2001
- 'If I were Attorney-General', Alternative Law Journal, 2003
- 'The first in human genetics regulation', Australasian Science, 2005
- 'A brief look at the history of privacy', Australian Quarterly, 2007
- Stott Despoja, Natasha (2014). "Women, peace and security : Australia in the UNSC" (PDF). International Humanitarian Law Magazine (2): 14–15. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Former Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoja elected to UN women's committee". ABC News. 9 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
- Rob Lundie & Martin Lumb "Research Note 13 1998–99 Update on Selected Australian Political Records" (Parliament of Australia) Archived 23 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Access date: 20 August 2013.
- "A penny for Pembroke?". Australian Financial Review. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
- "Natasha Jessica Stott Despoja". theArtofHealing.com.au. 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
- Melbourne, The University of. "Stott Despoja, Natasha Jessica – Woman – The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia". womenaustralia.info. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
- Haxton, Nance (16 February 2004). "Democrats launch paid maternity leave scheme". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Preston, Mike. "Paid maternity leave: is Australia ready?". Smart Company. Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Holmes, Brenton. "Tracking the push for an Australian republic". Parliament of Australia website. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Kirk, Alexandra (1 December 2005). "Renewed push for Australian republic". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- O'Brien, Kerry (9 August 2000). "Govt inquiry to examine genetic testing privacy issues". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Genetic Privacy and Non-discrimination Bill 1998 ". Parliament of Australia website. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Kirk, Alexandra (8 August 2006). "Stott Despoja proposes Private Members Bill on stem cell research". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Lloyd, Karen. "Deaf Australia applauds investigation into access to electronic media". Deaf Australia Inc. Archived from the original on 28 April 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Captioning for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired". Parliament of Australia website. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Same-Sex Marriages Bill 2006 ". Parliament of Australia website. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- "Senator Andrew Bartlett speaks about Sydney: Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – Adjournment Speech". Andrewbartlett.com. 4 April 2000. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- "Stott Despoja to bow out of politics". ABC News. 22 October 2006. Archived from the original on 18 April 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2006.
- "So long, it's been good to see you". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 June 2008. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Millett, Michael. "Savaged by the ferals at the bottom of the garden", Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 22 August 2002. Retrieved on 2011-04-29.
- "Senator Cherry speaks about Natasha Stott Despoja". ABC News. 21 August 2002. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2006.
- "Stott Despoja resigns leadership". ABC News. 21 August 2002. Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2006.
- Stott Despoja, Natasha (21 August 2002). "MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST : Australian Democrats: Leadership". Hansard. Canberra: Parliament of Australia website. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Business Spectator (2010). The Spectators: Natasha Stott-Despoja Archived 23 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja AM: Biography". Natasha Stott Despoja. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Museum Board". South Australian Museum. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Advisory Council". Museum of Australian Democracy. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Retirees from Ad Standards Board". Advertising Standards Bureau. Archived from the original on 4 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Business Spectator (28 Dec 2009) 'A New Year, A New Leader?: Natasha Stott Despoja Interview' Archived 24 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
- "About us Natasha Stott Despoja". Ovarian Cancer Australia. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja, Ian Smith and son Conrad join as ambassadors". The Orangutan Project. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Patrons and Ambassadors". SecondBite. Archived from the original on 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Magnusson, Michael (13 February 2013). "Natasha Stott Despoja joins ENUF". Gay News Network. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Former Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja Australia's new ambassador for women and girls". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 December 2013. Archived from the original on 18 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
- "Nigerian Elections Hold the Promise of Setting New Integrity Standard, NDI Mission Finds". National Democratic Institute. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja in Burkina Faso with Oxfam to meet families affected by the West Africa food crisis". Oxfam Australia. Archived from the original on 30 October 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja AM reflects on her recent trip to Laos". Burnet Institute. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Turnbull, Jeff (7 February 2013). "Natasha Stott Despoja meets her political hero Aung San Suu Kyi". Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- High-flying women in the mix to be SA's next Governor Archived 9 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine The Advertiser, 7 June 2014.
- Hieu Van Le to be next SA Governor, from war-torn Vietnam to vice-regal post Archived 12 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine ABC 26 June 2014
- Morgan, Angus (21 July 2015) "Natasha Stott Despoja returns to Burnet" Archived 23 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Burnet Institute News. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja". Melbourne University Press. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Home". Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children, Australia. Archived from the original on 28 July 2013.
- "Home page". Our Watch. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Political heavyweights to deliver uni lectures". University of Adelaide. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Gibson, Candy. "Winter School gets political". The University of Adelaide. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- "APF Advisory Panel Bios". Australian Privacy Foundation. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- See Bibliography.
- Stott Despoja, Natasha (5 March 2019). On violence. ISBN 9780522875546.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja". Australian Centre for Leadership for Women. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja AM". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "Gender Equality Top 100: The Most Influential People in Global Policy". Apolitical Group. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Mayers, Lily (10 June 2019). "Jackman, Buttrose and Rudd top Queen's Birthday Honours List". ABC News. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
- "Natasha Stott Despoja glams up for the Logies". Retrieved 26 June 2015.
- This needs checking. I suspect this is actually a contribution to Jocelynne Scutt's work Living generously.
- Tuntuni Bhattacharyya (6 November 1996). "and ain't i a woman?: Kick-arse feminism?". Green Left Weekly (253). Archived from the original on 25 October 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- "Collective Wisdom Prominent Australians on Success and the Future". Dennis Jones & Associates. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- Jim Aubrey (May 1998). Free East Timor: Australia's Culpability in East Timor's Genocide. Random House Australia. ISBN 978-0-09-183917-8. Archived from the original on 17 January 2018.
- "Time for change : Australia in the 21st century". UTS Library. Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
- Former Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (Australian Parliament website)
- Natasha Stott Despoja in The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia, entry by Nikki Henningham. (Includes links to selected other resources)
|Party political offices|
| Leader of the Australian Democrats
(interim) Brian Greig
| Ambassador of Australia for Women and Girls