Western Australia’s upcoming election provides the State with an opportunity to update its representation, including for the Indigenous community.
Below are the Indigenous incumbents and candidates running in the March 13 election.
Clint Uink – Greens
Greens candidate Clint Uink is a Noongar man who draws on his Indigeneity in understanding that Country brings nourishment. This inherent value is why Uink believes government should be protecting and preserving the environment.
Uink is focusing on a range of issues in his campaign, including taking steps to eradicate racism and improving mental health care.
Uink spoke to NIT about his potential role and how he would act as an Indigenous representative.
“I will not speak for all Indigenous or First Nations people. I will not speak for all Noongar people, but I will be a part of the important conversations,” he said.
He said the state needs solidarity and praised the amplification that non-Indigenous allies are providing to Indigenous perspectives and voices.
Michelle Nelson – Labor
Michelle Nelson, a Labor candidate and proud Noongar woman with Ballardong, Bibbulman, and Wadjuk connections, is a candidate for the Central Wheatbelt seat in WA’s Lower House, the Legislative Assembly.
She’s been actively involved in Aboriginal Affairs across the country and uses her wide-ranging experiences in government to focus on Native Title, housing and education, health insurance and disability services.
Nelson spoke to NIT about her desire to be a role model for all Aboriginal people.
“I would welcome the opportunity to mentor and encourage other Noongar people … and I would hope they could reach their destiny to be a future Aboriginal Prime Minister or Premier,” she said.
Zak Kirkup – Liberal
Zak Kirkup, the current Leader of the Opposition with Yamatji heritage, is once again vying for the seat of Dawesville as well as the fight to be Premier.
The new leader is the first Indigenous party leader in Western Australian political history. His leadership has resulted in a platform that extends across many issues but centres on improving employment.
Divina D’Anna – Labor
Labor’s Divina D’Anna is a Yawuru, Nimanburr and Bardi woman whose career has been focused on advocacy, especially working in Native Title, self-empowerment and suicide prevention; issues that guide her policy priorities, particularly concerning Aboriginal youth wellbeing.
D’Anna’s priorities would be investing in education, health care and job creation.
D’Anna says she would address crime by increasing the number of police stationed in the Kimberley and continue to facilitate the Kimberley Juvenile Justice Strategy.
Millie Hills – Nationals
Bunuba Kija woman Millie Hills is the first Indigenous woman to be preselected for a State election by the Nationals Party.
She currently chairs Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service and sits on the executive of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. This experience directs her hope for improving health care and education about alcohol and nutrition.
“The conversation needs to be happening all the time, about people’s drinking habits. You can’t just sit in an office and wait for someone to come and tell you they’ve got a problem,” Hills told NIT.
She hopes there can be a provision of more culturally appropriate services which are more accessible in tackling drug and alcohol abuse and wants to provide better infrastructure investment in maintaining the Martuwarra/Fitzroy River.
Naomi Pigram – Greens
The Greens’ Naomi Pigram grew up in the Kimberley with Yawuru and Wadjarri connections. She describes herself as a “proud Indigenous person who was born and raised in big spirit Country”.
Pigram said she aims to “protect Country and community”.
She supports a ban on fracking and significant environmental protections for the Martuwarra/Fitzroy River.
The Greens candidate is calling for investment in evidence-based initiatives to tackle the Kimberley’s significant social issues, particularly suicide rates in the region which motivated her to begin her campaign.
“I think it is totally unacceptable that a young person in the Kimberley is expected to wait for up to two weeks to see a mental health professional or to access clinical support when at risk of taking their life,” she said.
Tamara Alderdice – Greens
Koori woman Tamara Alderdice has spoken frequently not only about key issues of the environment and homelessness, but also about seeking Reconciliation and improving life for WA’s Indigenous communities.
Alderdice’s views are in line with her party’s Indigenous platform including the implementation of recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and investing in First Nations-led health services, among other policies.
“My role to my community as an Indigenous person has been to listen and learn from those whose land I call my home (Whadjuk Noongar Boodja) and help shoulder the burden of educating well-meaning people,” Alderdice told NIT.
North West Central
Cherie Sibosado – Labor
Labor candidate Cherie Sibosado is a proud Nyikina and Bardi woman from the West Kimberley region who has spent most of her life living in regional and remote WA.
Sibosado hopes to lead positive change for the North West Central electorate with her actions grounded in social justice.
She has already announced significant election promises including funding for the infrastructure of her electorate in schools, roads, and health facilities, with the added benefit of job creation.
Speaking to NIT, Sibosado says she takes her role seriously as an advocate for her electorate to bring their issues to the attention of the government should she be elected.
“I will also take the role of being an Aboriginal member of the Western Australian Parliament as an opportunity to speak the truth about what our communities need from government.”
South Metropolitan Region (Legislative Council)
Daniel Garlett – Greens
Noongar man Daniel Garlett, the Greens’ number three candidate for the South Metropolitan Region, hopes to represent his region and address the key issues of climate change and homelessness.
Garlett’s 30-plus years of experience on the ground working with Indigenous communities in both remote areas and cities has led him to run for the Upper House seat in 2021 in the hope of making a clear difference in Western Australia.
Garlett hopes to not only support his lead candidate, but also give a voice and a say to “Indigenous people from all over the WA state”.
“If I can get our people to come along on this journey with me I’m sure it can be the difference that can implement the changes we all need in local, State and Federal levels of government.”
The WA State election is on Saturday March 13.
By Aaron Bloch