Penny is the Greens spokesperson for legal affairs, mental health, social inclusion, veterans' affairs and cultural heritage and is passionate about her goal of a more inclusive Australia where all people can participate in their community and realise their full potential.
Penny's former roles as a solicitor, university lecturer and deputy president of the Guardianship Board - in which she focused on areas such as tenancy law, mental health, social security, refugees and violence against women - all helped prepare her for her work in parliament.
As a lawyer, she often worked in the ‘little end' of town, with those who live on the margins of society - people on low incomes, people with mental illnesses and people who have been dealt a tough hand by life.
Since taking her Senate seat Penny has been elected to chair the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References
Committee.Penny has always been active in promoting and protecting public institutions for the public good. She has worked and advocated for public education - as a parent and Governing Council chair, public transport (as an environmental and social justice issue) and public broadcasting - successfully heading up Friends of the ABC in SA from 1996 to 1999 to fight cuts to the ABC budget which threatened the loss of Radio National, Classic FM and Triple J.
Next to her three great children, 16, 20 and 22, and her husband, she also loves reading, whipping up delicious desserts and riding her bike. A bike accident in May 2010, which saw her conduct her election campaign mostly from a wheelchair, has given her a fresh gratitude for everyday things and a greater insight into the challenges for those navigating life in a wheelchair. She is now back on her bike but she is no longer allowed to run. Even walking along the corridors of Parliament House, though, she is faster than most of her staff members, with shorter legs, who are forced to trot beside her to keep up!