Sarah Hanson-Young

Sarah Coral Hanson-Young (née Hanson; born 23 December 1981) is an Australian politician who has been a Senator for South Australia since July 2008, representing the Australian Greens. She is the youngest woman to be elected to federal parliament, winning election at the age of 25 and taking office at the age of 26. She was the youngest person ever elected to the Senate (although several others have been appointed at younger ages), until Jordon Steele-John was elected on a recount in 2017.[3]

Sarah Hanson-Young
Senator for South Australia
Assumed office
1 July 2008
Personal details
Sarah Coral Hanson

(1981-12-23) 23 December 1981
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia[1]
Nationality Australia
Political partyGreens
ResidenceDaw Park, Adelaide[2]

Early life and education

Hanson-Young was born in Melbourne,[4] and grew up near Orbost in East Gippsland.[5] In 1999 she was awarded the Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year award for Gippsland, Victoria.

She graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 2002. While studying, she was Environment Officer from 2001 to 2002, and then President from 2002 to 2003, of the Students' Association of the University of Adelaide.[4][6]


In 2004, Hanson-Young worked as a bank teller.[4] From 2004, until she took parliamentary office in 2008, she worked for Amnesty International as Campaign Manager for South Australia and the Northern Territory.[4]

As of 2006, she was studying for a postgraduate law degree.[7][8]

Prior to her entry into politics, she also worked as media advisor to Mark Parnell (SA Greens) in the 2006 South Australian election[7][8] and was a campaigner with Justice for Refugees (SA).[9]

Political career

Hanson-Young was a candidate for the South Australian Legislative Council in the 2006 state election, ranked fourth on the Greens' ticket.[10][11]

Hanson-Young was elected senator for South Australia at the 2007 federal election. She was the first Greens senator to be elected in that state, the youngest person—at 25—ever popularly elected to the Australian senate,[3] and the youngest woman ever elected to the Australian parliament (Natasha Stott-Despoja was younger at her first sitting, but older at the time of her election).[12] Although the South Australian Green primary vote remained relatively unchanged, preferences from the Australian Labor Party provided the required quota for a Greens senator.[13][14]

As of 2016 Hanson-Young's portfolio responsibilities within the Greens include finance and trade, arts, education, youth, and water and the Murray-Darling Basin.[15]

Hanson-Young became the focus of attention on 18 June 2009, when the Senate President ordered the removal of her two-year-old daughter from the Senate chamber during a division. The rules of parliament at the time did not allow for senators or members to bring their children into the chamber.[16] Public reaction on the matter was divided, and ignited a debate on accommodating children and their careers in the workplace.[17] Despite a delay of seven years, the incident led directly to a change in the rules of both the House of Representatives and Senate, which now allow MPs and senators to care for their children for short periods in the chamber.[18]

Hanson-Young challenged Christine Milne for the Green deputy leadership in October 2010, but she was unsuccessful.[19] Following the resignation of Australian Greens leader Bob Brown in 2012, she was again nominated for the deputy leadership but lost by an undisclosed margin to Adam Bandt.[20] Hanson-Young was re-elected to the Senate at the 2013 federal election and again at the 2016 double dissolution election.

In December 2013, Hanson-Young, along with Senators Louise Pratt (ALP) and Sue Boyce (LNP) established a cross-party working group on marriage equality.[21]

In August 2016, Hanson-Young was replaced as the Greens' Immigration spokesperson by Nick McKim. She retained the senior portfolio areas of education and finance.[22]

In July 2018 Senator David Leyonhjelm suggested Hanson-Young should "stop shagging men", during a parliamentary debate on women's safety,[23][24] in response to a parliamentary interjection by Hanson-Young, which Leyonhjelm interpreted as being to the effect of "all men being rapists". Hanson-Young has described the idea of all men being rapists as "absurd".[25] In response to Leyonhjelm's interjection, Hanson-Young called Leyonhjelm a "creep" before he told her to "fuck off".[26] Hanson-Young called for Leyonhjelm to resign after Leyonhjelm refused to apologise and commenced crowd fundraising to pay for legal proceedings to sue him for defamation, claiming that any damages awarded would be donated to charity.[27][28][29] On 14 August 2018, the Greens moved a motion in the Senate to censure Leyonhjelm for his remarks against Hanson-Young which passed 30–28.[30][31] In the defamation court case, Derryn Hinch has given evidence that Hanson-Young had said "women would not need protection" (in the forms proposed by the bill) "if men stopped raping women", and that this did not mean all men raped women.[32]

Hanson-Young won a further six year senate term in the 2019 federal election, with her party receiving 10.9% of first preference votes, as well as a 5.03% swing in her favour.[33]

Published works

  • Hanson-Young, Sarah (2018). En Garde. Melbourne, Vic: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 978-0-5228750-2-7.

Personal life

Hanson-Young was married to former local government councillor Zane Young; the couple divorced in 2011.[34][35] They have one child together.[17]


  1. "Senator Sarah Hanson-Young Parliamentary Biography". ParlInfo. Commonwealth of Australia. 2 July 2008. Archived from the original on 9 August 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  2. "Form A: Statement of Registrable Interests" (PDF). Commonwealth of Australia. 22 September 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  3. Rob Lundie & Martin Lumb "Selected political records of the Commonwealth Parliament" (Parliament of Australia) Archived 4 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Access date: 1 March 2017.
  4. "Biography for HANSON-YOUNG, Sarah Coral". ParlInfo. Commonwealth of Australia. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  5. "ETS 'not tough enough'". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 October 2009. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  6. Crook, Andrew (1 October 2010). "Crikey List: which MPs were involved in student politics?". Archived from the original on 1 January 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  7. Edwards, Verity (27 October 2006). "Greens pin Senate hopes on 'new Natasha'". The Australian. News Corporation. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  8. "Natasha 'my Senate hero'". Border Mail. 28 October 2006.
  9. Heywood, John (14 June 2006). "New refugee bill opposed". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  10. "2006 SA election candidates". Electoral Commission of South Australia. 2006. Archived from the original on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  11. "2006 Legislative Council Candidates – Voting Tickets: Australian Greens" (PDF). Electoral Commission of South Australia. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  12. "Greens a new 'third force'". The Advertiser. 26 November 2007. Archived from the original on 26 November 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  13. "Senate Results: South Australia – Federal Election 2007". ABC Elections. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2008. Cathy Perry (ALP) is excluded at count 23, giving 71,615 votes to Sarah Hanson-Young, who achieves quota.
  14. "2007 Senate Count for South Australia" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 June 2009.
  15. "Australian Greens Senators – Portfolios". GreensMPs. Australian Greens. 19 December 2016. Archived from the original on 1 May 2012.
  16. "Children in the parliamentary chambers" (PDF). Australian Parliament House. October 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 May 2010.
  17. Kleinig, Xanthe; Rehn, Alison (20 June 2009). "Mums condemn Sarah Hanson-Young". News Corporation. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  18. "Senators allowed infants in the chamber". SBS. 8 November 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  19. "Sarah Hanson-Young challenges for Deputy Leader of the Greens". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 26 October 2010. Archived from the original on 28 October 2010.
  20. "Deputy post boosts Bandt". The Age. Fairfax Media. 14 April 2012.
  21. Same-sex couples wait on High Court ruling, Herald Sun, 11 December 2013
  22. "Greens leader praises dumped Hanson-Young". InDaily. 26 August 2016. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  23. "'You should stop shagging men': Hanson-Young accuses counterpart of sexist slur". ABC News. 28 June 2018.
  24. Australian Associated Press (28 June 2018). "Leyonhjelm tells senator to 'stop shagging men' during women's safety debate". the Guardian.
  25. "Leyonhjelm had no doubt Hanson-Young meant 'all men are rapists': Court". SBS News. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  26. "Leyonhjelm tells senator to 'stop shagging men' during women's safety debate".
  27. Whitbourn, Michaela (10 July 2018). "Hanson-Young's case against Leyonhjelm a first for sitting politicians". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  28. Thomsen, Simon (5 July 2018). "It looks like the defamation fight between David Leyonhjelm and Sarah Hanson-Young is heading to court". Business Insider Australia.
  29. Koziol, Michael (2 July 2018). "Sarah Hanson-Young threatens legal action over David Leyonhjelm's sexual comments". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  30. "David Leyonhjelm censured by Senate over his Sarah Hanson-Young comments". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  31. "Senate censures Leyonhjelm over Hanson-Young slur". SBS News. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  32. Whitbourn, Michaela (3 May 2019). "'Vile': Hinch takes aim at Leyonhjelm in Hanson-Young defamation case". The Age. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  33. "Senate Results - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". ABC News. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  34. "City of Mitcham – Overton Ward" (PDF). November 2006 Local Government Election Report. State Electoral Office of South Australia. 2006. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 April 2011. (page 111)
  35. Jones, Gemma (12 November 2011). "Taxing year for Green warrior". The Advertiser.
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