In an election marred by confusion and frustration (no, we still don’t know who the next Prime Minister will be), there is one thing to cheer about: Linda Burney has became the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the House of Representatives. On Saturday night the 59-year-old claimed victory, winning the seat of Barton in Sydney’s south.
"We have made history in this country,” she said after the announcement. "This is the most humbling moment of a political person's life, when you see what people give.
"I want to recognise the many cultural groups that make up our city, Barton, with its multicultural mix. We can teach the rest of the world about respect.”
It’s not the first Burney has made history. In 2003 she was the first indigenous person to be elected to the N.S.W. Parliament.
Burney, who is of Wiradjuri descent, was raised up in a small town in the Riverina. In her inaugural speech she talked about the reality of being Indigenous in Australia as a young woman: "I did not grow up knowing my Aboriginal family. I met my father, Nonny Ingram, in 1984. His first words to me were, "I hope I don't disappoint you." I have now met 10 brothers and sisters. We grew up 40 minutes apart. That was the power of racism and denial in the fifties that was so overbearing. I now have two sets of brothers and sisters. I was raised by my old aunt and uncle, Nina and Billy Laing. They were brother and sister. These old people gave me the ground on which I stand today—the values of honesty, loyalty and respect.”
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph today she reflected on her journey: "When you look at my life story, where I started and where I am now. It’s an example that good hard work and strong shoulders to lean on can deliver you wherever you want to be."