Robert Simms is a former Greens Senator for South Australia. He was endorsed to fill a casual vacancy by the South Australian Parliament in September 2015 and was the first out gay man to represent that state in the Federal Parliament, before losing his seat in the 2016 Double-Dissolution election. He was the Australian Greens’ spokesperson for Higher Education, Sexuality and Marriage Equality, and Water and the Murray Darling Basin. Sworn into the Senate at 31, he was also one of Australia’s youngest politicians.
As one of just 4 LGBTI members of the last Senate, Robert is best known for his advocacy on LGBTI rights and he was a champion for Marriage Equality, Safe Schools, increased availability of HIV prevention tools and strengthening anti-discrimination laws. In his first speech to the Parliament, Robert shared his coming out story and reminded LGBTI young people that “things really do get better.”
You can read Robert’s First Senate Speech here.
In addition to his advocacy on LGBTI rights, Robert was also a strong voice for South Australian jobs fighting for increased investment in renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and the local steel industry. In February, he worked with Senator Nick Xenophon to secure Senate support for an inquiry into BP’s proposal to drill in the Great Australian Bight and was a vocal opponent of the project.
Prior to entering the Senate, Robert served on Adelaide City Council where he was a strong voice for progressive values, promoting: greener streets, better cycling infrastructure, ethical investment and improved access for people with disabilities. Robert’s achievements on Council include:
– amending Council’s grant policy to provide support to the city’s homeless during extreme hot and cold weather
– successfully advocating for the $1 million promote Greener Streets Program (to support green roofs and walls and tree planting)
– Securing support for a Rainbow Walk in the CBD promoting LGBTI inclusion and community
– initiating an investigation into Council divesting from fossil fuel
You can read more about Robert’s work on Council here.
In 2014 and 2015 Robert was listed as one of the nation’s ’25 LGBTI People To Watch.’
Robert has worked in the community sector as a policy advocate, served on the boards of a number of community organisations including the Youth Affairs Council and AIDS Council of South Australia, and worked as a radio journalist. He was also an advisor to two Greens Senators, Sarah Hanson-Young and Scott Ludlam before working at Flinders University as a Casual Academic.
Robert holds a Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice, a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in sociology and politics) and a Graduate Certificate in Journalism. In 2008 he was admitted to the Supreme Court of South Australia as a Barrister and Solicitor.
He continues to write as a progressive social commentator and has had work published in the ABC’s The Drum Opinion, On Line Opinion, as well as other publications. He lives in Adelaide in share-housing.