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"As long as there is racism, I’ll continue to fight against it."

I’m a proud Aboriginal woman from a proud extended family that spans across north Australia. I have lived my life in the public eye for more than 20-years – firstly as an Olympian and now as a Senator for the Northern Territory. Throughout all this I have endeavoured to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as best I can and, sadly, this has made me a target for racism.

The reality is, occasionally I receive hateful, threatening and racist letters, emails and Facebook posts. A worse reality is that I’m far from the only one.

Australians need to face this reality and acknowledge that racism exists throughout our great country and across all sectors of society. This is an extremely important issue yet we don’t speak out against it.

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The hate mail I receive via letters or emails are written anonymously because the authors are too gutless to own up to their bigotry. Well I’m over that – I’m going to call it out each and every time!

That’s why I’ve decided to publish the abusive hate mail that I receive. By sharing these abusive messages on Facebook and Twitter, there are a few things I hope to achieve.

Firstly, we need to recognise that these views do exist. I don’t know the scale at which they exist, but clearly the fact that they exist at all is not good enough in modern Australia. We can’t fix this problem without first recognising that it exists and seeing it for what it is.

Secondly, as a Labor Senator, I feel it’s my responsibility to call out racism. Labor has always advocated for equality of opportunity and I simply would not be doing my job properly if I didn’t stand up for my constituents and any Australian that’s been subject to any form of racism. It deserves to be talked about, and it deserves to be publically deplored.

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This isn’t just about me, this isn’t just about Aboriginal people or any particular race, this is about people who are forced to deal with this kind of hate on a regular basis. I share these letters because I want to defend those people and help them give them voice.

I also share these posts because we cannot let them go unnoticed. We cannot let bigoted views escape judgement. We cannot allow people with distorted and racist views think they can get away with using threatening language against vulnerable people. If we do then we are devaluing our community and our humanity.

I’ve been in public life for 23 years. I’ve received my fair share of hate and abuse. I’ve grown strong enough to deal with them and I’m lucky enough to have loving friends and family who’ve always been there for me. But is still always hurtful.

But not everyone is that fortunate. Not everyone has that loving support. It’s these people that are vulnerable when they are abused or threatened. It’s not fair for people to be living in fear or not feeling welcome in their own community.

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Senator Peris in Central Australia (Image: Supplied)

When I’ve posted these letters and messages, I have been heartened by the overwhelming response of support for me and disgust at the racism expressed.

It proves to me that these views are abhorrent to you, just as they are to me.

I believe that these views are not compatible with Australian society. I believe that Australians are better than this and racially motivated hatred is the exception rather than the rule.

As long as I keep getting racist messages, I’ll continue to expose them and as long as there is racism, I’ll continue to fight against it.

Nova Peris, Senator to the Northern Territory was first elected in 2013, and has become the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament.

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