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Refugee Fatima Payman, 27, who fled the Taliban, becomes Australia’s first hijab-wearing senator

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Refugee, 27, who fled the Taliban at age five, becomes Australia’s first hijab-wearing senator and vows to represent everyone ‘wherever they come from and whatever they believe in’

  • Refugee and hijab wearer Fatima Payman, 27, has been elected to the Senate
  • The union organizer is also the third-youngest senator in Australia’s history
  • Her family fled Afghanistan when she was five after the Taliban targeted them

A 27-year-old refugee who has fled the Taliban has become Australia’s first hijab-wearing senator.

Labor’s Fatima Payman was elected to WA’s sixth senate seat after the election results were finalized on Monday. She is the third-youngest Australian Senator in history.

The union organizer, Ms Payman, was five years old when her family fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and moved to Pakistan. The Taliban had attacked the family because her grandfather was a member of the Afghan parliament.

Her father, a major source of inspiration for the new senator, then set out for Australia by boat, promising to find “a better life for his children.”

Mrs Payman, the eldest of four children, followed in her father’s footsteps three years later when the family settled in the northern suburbs of Perth.

The new senator is proud of her heritage but told the Guardian after her election victory that she is ‘Australian first’.

Labour’s Fatima Payman, 27, was elected to WA’s sixth senate seat after election results were finalized on Monday

She will be the first senator to wear a hijab to sit in the Australian Parliament after her victory

She will be the first senator to wear a hijab to sit in the Australian Parliament after her victory

Union organizer Ms Payman was five years old (pictured) when her family fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and moved to Pakistan

Union organizer Ms Payman was five years old (pictured) when her family fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and moved to Pakistan

“Yes, I am the first woman to wear a hijab in parliament, but it was my Labor values ​​that brought me here,” she said.

“Before I am Afghan, or migrant or Muslim, I am an Australian Labor senator, I really want to emphasize that. I believe that everyone deserves a fair chance in life, regardless of where they come from and what they believe in, their sexual orientation, age or ability.’

Ms Payman also targeted Pauline Hanson, the re-elected One Nation senator who wore a burqa in the Senate as part of a political stunt calling for prohibition. Mrs Payman joked Mrs Hanson had “stole her thunder” but said she would “teach her how to wear my hijab”.

The newly-elected senator has previously spoken of how her father instilled in her values ​​of “hard work and perseverance.”

He was also “obsessed” with politics and often discussed it at the dinner table.

Her father had several jobs after arriving in Australia, as a kitchen helper, security guard and taxi driver. Her mother, who took care of the family, also started a business that gave driving lessons.

Ms Payman lost her father to leukemia in 2018, something that pushed her into politics.

The new senator is proud of her heritage but told the Guardian after her election victory that she is 'Australian first'

The new senator is proud of her heritage but told the Guardian after her election victory that she is ‘Australian first’

The newly elected senator has previously spoken about how her father taught her values ​​of 'hard work and perseverance'

The newly elected senator has previously spoken about how her father taught her values ​​of ‘hard work and perseverance’

She worked as an organizer at United Workers Union and her Labor profile said she wanted to represent people ‘like her father and other hard-working Australians, who strive to make ends meet and give life its best chance’.

Ms. Payman has volunteered by tutoring high school students and has worked with the WA Police Force to help them “better understand the barriers faced by young people and culturally diverse communities.”

“I’m really excited to get involved, learn as much as I can and make a difference because that’s exactly why I put my hand out in the first place,” she told the Guardian after her election win.

‘My mother cried. I would do anything to know or see my father’s reaction. I know he would be so proud of me. He would have the feeling this has been an unreal journey.’

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