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Lidia Thorpe Biography
Lidia Alma Thorpe is an Australian businesswoman and politician who was born in 1973. She works for the Australian Greens. As of August 2022, she is a senator for the state of Victoria in the federal government. She is the first Aboriginal senator from Victoria, and she has been the Greens’ deputy leader in the Senate since June 2022.
Thorpe has been a part of the Victorian Parliament in the past. When she won the Northcote state by-election on November 18, 2017, she became the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the state’s parliament. From 2017 to 2018, she was the Legislative Assembly member for Northcote.
As a supporter of the sovereignty and rights of the First Nations, Thorpe has gotten attention from the media for their criticisms of the legitimacy of Australian political institutions, which they say are based on colonialism.
Early life and education
Lidia Alma Thorpe was born in the Victoria city of Carlton in 1973. She is from the DjabWurrung, Gunnai, and Gunditjmara tribes. She says she is Aboriginal because she comes “from a long line of strong black women.” Her mother, Marjorie Thorpe, was a co-commissioner for the Stolen Generations inquiry that produced the Bringing Them Home report in the 1990s. She was also a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and a pre-selected Greens federal candidate for Gippsland. Marjorie’s mother, activist Alma Thorpe, was also a co-commissioner for the Stolen Generations inquiry that produced the Bringing Them Home report.
Thorpe lived in Housing Commission apartments in Collingwood and went to Clifton Hill’s Gold Street Primary School. She went to Fitzroy High School for Year 7, then to Collingwood High School for Year 8. She went back to Fitzroy High School for Year 9, but left soon after, when she was 14. She liked playing Australian rules football and netball, and she says she was very competitive.
Her first job was with her uncle Robbie Thorpe at the Koori Information Centre at 120 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, which was “a hub of Black political activity” at the time. Since then, she has worked every day, except for six-month breaks when she had babies.
She has a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and a Diploma of Community Development from Swinburne University of Technology. She also has a graduate certificate in public sector management. She had a child by herself when she was 17.
Thorpe was the president of the Lakes Entrance Basketball Association for three years and worked as the Aboriginal Employment Advisor for the Municipal Association of Victoria. She has also been on the school council of the Nowa Nowa Primary School, a steering committee for Indigenous administrators, and the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria). She worked as a project manager for the East Gippsland Shire Council, an Indigenous manager at Centrelink, and a manager at the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Training Centre.
From 2014 to 2017, Thorpe was the co-chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee.
Thorpe was declared bankrupt in 2013 because he owed more than A$700,000 in debts. He owed money to Indigenous Business Australia and the Australian Taxation Office. She said that domestic violence was the cause of her bankruptcy. She said, “Like many people who have survived family violence, I lost everything trying to protect myself and my family from an impossible situation.” Her drunk ex-husband agreed with what she said about how the marriage ended. In 2016, she was no longer in bankruptcy.
Ongoing roles and interests
Thorpe is the managing director of the Clan Corporation, a business that focuses on green energy and sustainable housing. Thorpe is or has been the delegate for the Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, the Victorian representative to the National Advisory Committee for The Smith Family, and the co-chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee. She has worked in Aboriginal health, with funerals, and with children.
Thorpe is in charge of the Pay the Rent campaign, which asks non-Aboriginal Australians to pay individual reparations through an organization with the same name. She is in charge of the group’s new Sovereign Body, which is “based on the idea of community control and sovereignty and will have full control over how the money is spent.”
Thorpe has been critical of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. He thinks that an Indigenous voice in the government should come after a treaty. Thorpe led a walkout from the Uluru convention because he thought it was “hijacked by Aboriginal corporations and establishment appointments and didn’t reflect the aspirations of ordinary Indigenous people.”
On Australia Day 2019, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people gathered at the Kings Domain Resting Place for the first dawn service, which was organized by Thorpe. The service was a day of mourning and reflection on the colonization of Australia.
The Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership was given to Thorpe in 2008.
Personal life and family
Alma Thorpe, who was Thorpe’s grandmother, helped start the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Lidia Thorpe was born in 1973, the same year that the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy were set up. Both Alma and her mother, Edna Brown, were Koori activists in Footscray and Collingwood. Edna was forced to leave the Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve when she was 15 years old. After that, she became a community activist.
Meriki Onus is Thorpe’s sister. She helped start the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) group, which was a key part of the Australian Aboriginal Sovereignty movement.
Robbie Thorpe is her activist uncle. He was involved in some of the earliest fights for Aboriginal Australian self-determination and also with the Pay The Rent campaign.
Thorpe has three children, and as of April 2022, she is “the proud grandmother of four grandchildren.”