Nova Peris

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Nova Peris
Senator for the Northern Territory
Assumed office
7 September 2013
Preceded by Trish Crossin
Personal details
Born Darwin, Northern Territory
Political party Australian Labor Party
Nova Peris
Personal information
Full name Nova Maree Peris
Nationality Australian
Born (1971-02-25) 25 February 1971 (age 44)
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Height 170 cm (5 ft 7 in)
Spouse(s) Sean Kneebone (1995–2001)
Daniel Batman (2002–2010)
Scott Appleton (2012 – )
Updated on 22 January 2013.

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.

Sporting career[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 the Sydney 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]

Peris was born in Darwin, Northern Territory. She met Sean Kneebone when she was 17 and they had a daughter in 1990. They married in 1995, after which she adopted the surname Peris-Kneebone. Following their divorce in 2001,[5] she returned to using her maiden name, and in March 2002 married Daniel Batman;[5] they separated in 2010.[6] Batman died in a car crash in June 2012.[7]

Peris married Scott Appleton on 12 August 2012. She has three children: Jessica (with Kneebone), and Destiny and Jack (with Batman), and became a grandmother at the age of 40.[8]

In October 2014, while Peris was involved in a child custody case, private emails between Peris and athlete Ato Boldon were leaked to the press.[9] The emails were used as the basis for allegations that Peris had used her role as an ambassador for Athletics Australia to organise a trip to Australia for Boldon as part of the "Jump Start to London" athletics program, during which she intended to engage in an affair with the athlete.[10] Boldon subsequently described the accusations as containing "gross fabrications" and threatened legal action.[11] Speaking in Parliament on 30 October, Peris denied wrongdoing, and alleged that the release of the emails was part of a blackmail attempt in regard to the child custody battle.[9]

Peris' autobiography, Nova: My Story was released on 4 April 2003.[5][12]


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.[13] 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.[14]

On 7 September 2013 Peris became Australia's first indigenous woman elected to federal parliament.[15] Peris was sworn into parliament on 12 November, and noted the apology to the stolen generation in her maiden speech.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nova Peris entry on The Australian Women's Register
  2. ^ Territory Women, Northern Territory Library
  3. ^ "Nova Peris sells Olympic memorabilia". ABC Online (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 5 March 2005. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  4. ^ Nova Peris collection at the National Museum of Australia
  5. ^ a b c Michelle, Hamer (30 March 2003). "Some lines you don't cross". The Age. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Like a bat outta hell for London". Canberra Times, 16 December 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2012
  7. ^ Frost, Carleen; Turner, Ellie (26 June 2012). "Australian Olympian Daniel Batman killed in NT car crash". Herald-Sun. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Peris no stranger to challenges". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Farr, Malcolm. (30 October 2014). "Senator Nova Peris breaks silence over Ato Boldon sex email scandal", Herald Sun. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  10. ^ Levy, Megan. (29 October 2014). "Bill Shorten backs Nova Peris despite rort allegations". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Senator Nova Peris scandal: Ato Boldon responds to claims", (29 October 2014). Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  12. ^ Nova Peris, Nova; Heads, Ian (2003). Nova : My story : The Autobiography of Nova Peris. ABC Books. p. 314. ISBN 0733311660. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  13. ^ Cullen, Simon (22 January 2013). "Gillard picks Nova Peris to run for Senate". ABC News. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  14. ^ Kenny, Mark (29 January 2013). "Olympian's run for senate endorsed". The Age. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Laughland, Oliver (7 September 2013). "Nova Peris becomes first Indigenous woman in federal parliament". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Emotional speech from Australia's first Indigenous female Senator". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "FIRST SPEECH – Senator PERIS (Northern Territory)". Senate Hansard. Parliament of Australia. 13 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Rebecca Chambers
Young Australian of the Year
Succeeded by
Tan Le