Carol Martin

In 2001, Carol Martin was the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to an Australian parliament.

Honour Roll

Carol Martin was taken from her parents at twelve and made a ward of the state after 'copping a hiding for being a mongrel kid'. She spent the next three years escaping and then being put into a range of children's institutions and foster homes. She spent much of her time over the next few years evading authorities and hiding out with family around Perth.

After her parents divorced she followed her mum, Rose Pilkington to Broome. Despite not having completed her schooling, Carol studied business management and found work as a social worker. A few years later, she moved north to Derby where she married a builder, Brian Martin. He was a white person who had grown up alongside Carol's relatives from the Yumanji tribe outside Geraldton. This area was known as Munni Mia, hence Carol's nickname, the Munni Mia kid. Carol and Brian built a home in town and had two children.

A few years later, Carol won a scholarship to study social work at Curtin University, so the family moved to Perth to enable her to study. Once she earned her degree, they moved back to the Kimberley region, settling in Broome, with a thirteen-year-old son and a sixteen-year-old daughter who recently had a baby.

Carol decided to run for parliament as a Labor candidate in the Western Australian State Election 2001. Her husband had unsuccessfully contested the seat of Kimberley in the previous elections. The family all worked together to help Carol get into office. She easily won the seat of Kimberley, polling 43% of the primary vote, as part of the ALP's decisive win across the state. She became the first Indigenous woman to be elected to an Australian Parliament.

The previous member, Ernie Bridge, had been the first Indigenous person elected to the Western Australian Parliament in 1980. It was Ernie Bridge who had encouraged her to get involved in local issues. Carol won support from both the white and Aboriginal communities. She attributed her victory to her high public profile in the area and her support from the local party, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and EMILY's List.

She had travelled 60,000 kilometres to make herself known in some of the remote communities across the Kimberleys. She is now planning visits to all these towns again to thank the people who voted for her.