Penelope Lesley Wright (born 19 January 1961) is South Australia's Guardian for Children and Young People in Care.

Penny Wright
Penny Wright.jpg
Guardian for Children and Young People in Care, South Australia
Assumed office
10 July 2017
Senator for South Australia
In office
1 July 2011 – 10 September 2015
Succeeded byRobert Simms
Personal details
Born (1961-01-19) 19 January 1961 (age 59)[1]
Red Cliffs, Victoria
Spouse(s)Mark Parnell
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
University of Adelaide

Formerly a lawyer, lecturer, mediator, and Tribunal Member, she was also a Australian Greens senator for South Australia, elected at the 2010 election. She resigned in September 2015.

Early lifeEdit

Wright was born in 1961 at Red Cliffs in the Sunraysia region of Victoria, the sixth of seven children of Lesley and Hugh Wright.[2][3] She spent much of her childhood growing up in Melbourne after her family moved there in 1968. Wright attended Wattle Park High School in Burwood before moving to MacRobertson Girls' High School for high achievers. After completing high school she studied arts/law at the University of Melbourne,[2] later obtaining a graduate diploma in Environmental Studies in Adelaide.[4]

Wright spent 20 years working as a lawyer prior to her election to parliament.[5]

She became the Guardian for Children and Young People in Care on 10 July 2017.[6]

Political careerEdit

Wright is a founding member of the South Australian branch of the Greens (along with her husband Mark Parnell, a state MLC, generally considered the founder of the South Australian Greens). According to Wright, she postponed her political career at the time (1995) to raise children.[2][7]

Wright was placed first on the South Australian Greens Senate ticket for the 2010 federal election. The party received a 6.8 percent swing in South Australia, finishing with 13.3 percent of the statewide Senate vote. Wright joined eight other Green Senators in the upper house from the start of July 2011, including incumbent South Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.[8][9]

On commencing her senate term in July 2011, Wright was assigned the portfolios of Attorney-General, Native Title, Veterans' Affairs, Social Inclusion, Mental Health[7] and Heritage within the federal Greens.[10] She went on to hold the Attorney-General, Veterans' Affairs, Mental Health and Schools and Education Portfolios.[11]

On 17 July 2015, Wright announced that she would be resigning from the Senate due to illness in her family.[12] She gave her final speech on 19 August,[13] and resigned on 9 September.[14] Robert Simms was appointed to the casual vacancy by a joint sitting of the Parliament of South Australia on 22 September 2015.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

Wright is married to Mark Parnell with whom she moved to Adelaide in 1989 following 9 months in Europe.[2] Wright and Parnell have three children, Felix, Eleanor and Mungo.[2][16][17]

Following Mungo's suicide at the age of 21 in September 2016, his parents used his death to raise awareness of organ donation after donating his corneas.[18]


  1. ^ "Biography for WRIGHT, Penelope (Penny) Lesley". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Fenton, Andrew (25 June 2011). "Greens duo putting family first". The Advertiser. News Corporation. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  3. ^ Pearson, Les (11 August 2010). "Penny Wright sets Greens agenda in the Riverland". Riverland Weekly. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  4. ^ "ABC Q&A". Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  5. ^ "SA Needs Another Progressive Voice in the Senate" (Press release). Australian Greens. 17 April 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  6. ^ "The Guardian's staff team". Guardian for Children and Young People in Care. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b Brereton, Adam (8 July 2011). "Just Another Earnest Green From South Australia?". New Matilda. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  8. ^ "Senate Results - South Australia". 2010 Federal Election. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  9. ^ - meet us Archived 27 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Wright, Penny (4 July 2011). "Statement from Senator Penny Wright". Australian Greens. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  11. ^ Wright, Penny (4 July 2011). "Senator Penny Wright Portfolios". Australian Greens. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Greens Senator Penny Wright to step aside due to family illness". ABC News. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Greens' Penny Wright gives final speech". SBS News. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  14. ^ "As foreshadowed, @PennyWrites has this morning resigned her place as a senator for South Australia". Twitter. @AuSenate. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  15. ^ "Adelaide City councillor Robert Simms to take Greens Senate seat". ABC News. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Penny Wright: Candidate for South Australia". The Australian Greens. 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  17. ^ Parnell, Mark. "Mark Parnell - Background". Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  18. ^ "Ex-SA senator Penny Wright and husband find hope in organ donation as they share loss of son Mungo to suicide". The Advertiser. News Limited. 28 July 2017. Retrieved 4 February 2019.

External linksEdit