Nova Peris

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Nova Peris
Nova Peris 2012 (cropped).jpg
Peris in 2012
Senator for the Northern Territory
In office
7 September 2013 – 9 May 2016
Preceded byTrish Crossin
Succeeded byMalarndirri McCarthy
Personal details
Nova Maree Peris

(1971-02-25) 25 February 1971 (age 51)
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
Spouse(s)Sean Kneebone (1995–2001)
Daniel Batman (2002–2010)
Scott Appleton (2012 – )
Sports career
Height170 cm (5 ft 7 in)
Medal record
Representing  Australia
Women's Field Hockey
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1996 Atlanta Team Competition
World Cup
Gold medal – first place 1994 Dublin Team Competition
Champions Trophy
Gold medal – first place 1993 Amstelveen Team Competition
Gold medal – first place 1995 Mar del Plata Team Competition
Women's Athletics
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 1998 Kuala Lumpur 200 metres
Gold medal – first place 1998 Kuala Lumpur 4x100m relay
Updated on 22 January 2013.

Nova Maree Peris OAM (born 25 February 1971) is an Aboriginal Australian athlete and former politician. As part of the Australian women's field hockey (Hockeyroos) team at the 1996 Olympic Games, she was the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. She later switched sports to sprinting and went to 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. She retired from the Senate in 2016.

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 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 4 × 100 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 4 × 400 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.[3]

In 2005, she sold her Olympic memorabilia to the National Museum of Australia for $140,000.[4] It included her gold medal, hockey stick, Sydney Olympic torch and the running shoes she wore in the Sydney Olympics.[5]

Political career[edit]

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.[6] 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 that she would become Australia's first female Indigenous federal parliamentarian.[7]

On 7 September 2013 Peris became Australia's first Indigenous woman elected to federal parliament.[8] Peris was sworn into parliament on 12 November, and noted the apology to the stolen generation in her maiden speech.[9][10]

Peris announced on 24 May 2016 that she would not nominate to re-contest her Senate seat at the 2016 federal election.[11][12] Fairfax and the ABC reported that Peris was one of the frontrunners being considered to replace Jason Mifsud as head of diversity for the Australian Football League (AFL).[11] Malarndirri McCarthy announced on 25 May 2016 that she had been invited by Labor to nominate herself as Peris' Senate replacement and that she would do so.[13] Nova Peris's Senate term ended at the double dissolution of 9 May 2016.

Other roles[edit]

As of November 2020 Peris is an Ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Peris was born in Darwin, Northern Territory.[citation needed] Her biological father was Indigenous rights activist John Christophersen, although she had no contact with him between the ages of 2 and 16. Her mother, Joan, had been removed from her mother raised in the Catholic mission on Melville Island, as one of the Stolen Generations.[15]

Peris met Sean Kneebone when she was 17, they had a daughter in 1990, married in 1995 and divorced in 2001. While married to Kneebone, she adopted the surname Peris-Kneebone but reverted following their divorce.[16]

In March 2002 she married Daniel Batman;[16] and they had two children but they separated in 2010[17] and Batman died in a car crash in June 2012.[18]

Peris married Scott Appleton on 12 August 2012.

Peris has three children: Jessica (with Kneebone) and Destiny and Jack (with Batman). She became a grandmother at the age of 40.[19]

Peris' autobiography, Nova: My Story was released on 4 April 2003.[16][20]

In 2019, Peris competed in the sixth season of Australian Survivor. She was eliminated on Day 10 and finished in 21st place.[21]

In 2020 she sued for defamation over brief comments made by Jacinta Price on the television program Studio 10.[22]


In October 2014, explicit emails between Peris and athlete Ato Boldon were leaked to the press.[23] 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.[24] Boldon subsequently described the accusations as containing "gross fabrications" and threatened legal action.[25] 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.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nova Peris entry on The Australian Women's Register
  2. ^ Territory Women, Northern Territory Library
  3. ^ "Current and previous exhibitions, National Portrait Gallery".
  4. ^ "Nova Peris sells Olympic memorabilia". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 5 March 2005. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  5. ^ Nova Peris collection at the National Museum of Australia
  6. ^ Cullen, Simon (22 January 2013). "Gillard picks Nova Peris to run for Senate". ABC News. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  7. ^ Kenny, Mark (29 January 2013). "Olympian's run for senate endorsed". The Age. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  8. ^ Laughland, Oliver (7 September 2013). "Nova Peris becomes first Indigenous woman in federal parliament". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Emotional speech from Australia's first Indigenous female Senator". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 November 2013.
  10. ^ "FIRST SPEECH – Senator PERIS (Northern Territory)". Senate Hansard. Parliament of Australia. 13 November 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Nova Peris will not stand for re-election". SBS News. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Nova Peris: Tearful Indigenous MP quits Australia Senate - BBC News". BBC News. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Malarndirri McCarthy puts hat in the ring for Nova Peris Senate seat". ABC News. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Ambassadors - About". Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  15. ^ Hersh, Philip (22 September 2000). "Across generations". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  16. ^ a b c Michelle, Hamer (30 March 2003). "Some lines you don't cross". The Age. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  17. ^ "Like a bat outta hell for London". Canberra Times, 16 December 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2012
  18. ^ Frost, Carleen; Turner, Ellie (26 June 2012). "Australian Olympian Daniel Batman killed in NT car crash". Herald-Sun. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  19. ^ "Peris no stranger to challenges". Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  20. ^ Nova Peris, Nova; Heads, Ian (2003). Nova : My story : The Autobiography of Nova Peris. ABC Books. p. 314. ISBN 0733311660. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  21. ^ McKnight, Robert (21 May 2019). "Major cast details leaked for AUSTRALIAN SURVIVOR: CHAMPIONS vs CONTENDERS". TV Blackbox. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  22. ^ Hayman-Reber, Madeline (31 January 2020). "Nova Peris sues Jacinta Price over 2019 Studio 10 appearance". SBS. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  23. ^ a b Farr, Malcolm. (30 October 2014). "Senator Nova Peris breaks silence over Ato Boldon sex email scandal", Herald Sun. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  24. ^ Levy, Megan. (29 October 2014). "Bill Shorten backs Nova Peris despite rort allegations". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  25. ^ "Senator Nova Peris scandal: Ato Boldon responds to claims", (29 October 2014). Retrieved 30 October 2014.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Young Australian of the Year
Succeeded by