Samantha Ratnam

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Samantha Ratnam
Samantha Ratnam.jpg
Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
Assumed office
12 October 2017
DeputyNina Springle (2017–18)
Ellen Sandell (2018–present)
Preceded byGreg Barber
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council
Assumed office
19 October 2017
Preceded byGreg Barber
ConstituencyNorthern Metropolitan Region
Mayor of Moreland
In office
Preceded byMeghan Hopper
Succeeded byHelen Davidson
Councillor for City of Moreland
In office
1 October 2012 – 11 October 2017
Personal details
Born1977 (age 45–46)[1]
England, United Kingdom[1]
Political partyGreens
SpouseColin Jacobs[2]
Residence(s)Brunswick East, Melbourne, Victoria[2]
EducationMullauna College[3]
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
  • Social worker
  • Politician
WebsiteSamantha Ratnam website

Samantha Shantini Ratnam (born 1977) is an Australian social worker, politician and the current leader of the Victorian Greens. Since October 2017 Ratnam has been a member of the Victorian Legislative Council, representing the Northern Metropolitan Region. Prior to this she was a councillor and mayor for the City of Moreland.

Early life[edit]

Born in England and raised in Sri Lanka,[4] Samantha Ratnam and her family left the country after the 'Black July' 1983 riots in Colombo that gave rise to 30-year Sri Lankan Civil War between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a Tamil separatist group. The family eventually settled in Australia after spending time in Europe and Canada.[5]

From 1995 to 2001 Samantha Ratnam completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) from the University of Melbourne. In 2014, she completed her Doctor of Philosophy, titled 'Young people and global citizenship: New possibilities for civic participation', also from the University of Melbourne.[6]

Ratnam has worked in various roles in assisting migrants and asylum seekers including at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, in the fields of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, mental health and international development.[5]

In April 2014, Samantha Ratnam explained in The Indian Sun, an online publication for the Australian-Indian community how she is a product of diaspora and her motivations for entering politics.[7]

Moreland Council[edit]

Ratnam first stood for and was elected to the City of Moreland Council for South Ward in 2012 as one of three Ward Councillors.[5] In 2016 she was re-elected with her vote more than doubling to over 55 percent of the ward vote.[8]

In 2015 she was elected by councillors as the first Greens mayor of Moreland for 2016 in a 6 to 5 vote with Independent Councillor Helen Davidson and Socialist Alliance Councillor Sue Bolton supporting her bid for the mayor.[5] Her election as Mayor was even noted in the country of her heritage, Sri Lanka,[9] and by the Indian community in Australia,[10] and in Tamil culture.[11]

In her time on the council, Ratnam was instrumental in removing official council references to Australia Day, saying “this is a gesture of respect and an important step in healing”.[12] Ratnam resigned from the council on 11 October 2017.[13]

2016 Federal election campaign[edit]

Ahead of the 2016 federal election the Greens preselected Ratnam to stand in the Division of Wills, where the sitting Labor MP Kelvin Thomson was retiring.[14]

Although Ratnam substantially increased the Greens vote with a swing greater than 10 percentage points in Wills, the Labor candidate Peter Khalil won the seat with a 4.88 point margin.[15][16]

State politics[edit]

Ratnam filled the vacant Legislative Council seat of former Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber, who announced his retirement from politics on 28 September 2017.[17] On 12 October 2017, prior to having officially filled Barber's seat, Ratnam was appointed as leader of the Victorian Greens, becoming the first woman to lead the party at a state level.[18][19] She was officially sworn in as a member of the Legislative Council on 19 October 2017.[20]

Ratnam was re-elected in the Northern Metropolitan region at the 2018 state election, though her four party colleagues failed to win back their seats and she became the only Greens member of the Legislative Council.[21]


During her time in state politics, Ratnam has led calls for action on climate change, affordable housing for all, integrity in politics and justice for First Nations people. She has introduced the legislation into the Victorian Parliament to:

  • Transition Victoria out of coal by 2030
  • Give IBAC more powers and strengthen integrity in politics
  • Protect the rights of LGBTIQA students
  • Transition from gas to clean energy
  • End homelessness and ensure housing is a human right
  • Stop new coal and gas projects
  • End native forest logging
  • Reduce gambling harms
  • Stop the over incarceration of First Nations people and women by reforming our bail laws
  • Stop evictions of renters during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Set targets for public housing to help end homelessness
  • Improve bike safety with safe overtaking distances for cars
  • Create a pill testing pilot program to reduce the harm of drug use
  • Give public housing residents greater rights and access to an Ombudsman
  • Improve recycling through a cash for cans scheme
  • Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 to stop First Nations children being incarcerated[22]

Ratnam also established Parliamentary Inquiries into the growing threat of far-right extremism (2022),[23] into the biodiversity extinction crisis (2019),[24] the waste and recycling crisis (2019).[25]

According to The Age, between November 2018 and November 2021, Ratnam voted with the Andrews Government's position 62.4% of the time, the fourth-most of any Legislative Council crossbencher.[26]

Academic research[edit]

As a social work PhD student, Ratnam contributed to a number of peer-reviewed research papers and academic books, including:

  • The Nobody's Clients Project: Identifying and Addressing the Needs of Children with Substance Dependent Parents: Full Report – 2004 – Odyssey Institute of Studies ISBN 0975714805
  • Identifying Children's Needs When Parents Access Drug Treatment: The Utility of a Brief Screening Measure – 12 October 2008 – Taylor and Francis Online [1]
  • Global Connections: ‘A Tool for Active Citizenship’ – 20 October 2009 – Taylor and Francis Online [2]
  • Youth-led Learning: Local Connections & Global Citizenship. Australian Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, 2008 ISBN 0734039859
  • Chapter 12 Young People and the future in For We Are Young And ...: Young People in a Time of Uncertainty (Book) By Johanna Wyn, Roger Holdsworth, Sally Beadle – Melbourne Univ. Publishing, 15 March 2011 ISBN 9780522858365
  • Chapter 4 Citizenship beyond status: New paradigms for citizenship education, in Educating for Global Citizenship: A Youth-led Approach to Learning and Partnership by Ani Wierenga, Jose Roberto Guevara. Melbourne Univ. Publishing, 1 February 2013 ISBN 9780522861006
  • Young people and global citizenship: new possibilities for civic participation. 2015 (PhD thesis)[3]


  1. ^ a b Kolovos, Benita (13 November 2022). "Samantha Ratnam, the march of the Greens and the unfulfilled promise of the 'most progressive government' ever". Guardian Australia.
  2. ^ a b c Fyfe, Melissa (16 November 2022). "She's a safe pair of hands, but Greens leader needs her 'Google it, mate' moment". The Age.
  3. ^ "Samantha Ratnam – Inaugural Speech". Parliament of Victoria. 1 November 2017.
  4. ^ Kandiah, Shanelle (22 March 2016). "Meet the Mayor of Moreland, Australia: Samantha Ratnam". Tamil Culture. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Peter (30 October 2015). "Moreland Council elects first Green mayor Samantha Ratnam". Moreland Leader/Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Young people and global citizenship: new possibilities for civic participation". Minerva Access. hdl:11343/52650. Retrieved 16 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Kallivayalil, Tanu (24 April 2014). "Taking a Stand". The Indian Sun. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  8. ^ Choahan, Neelima (23 October 2016). "Greens vote surges in Victorian council elections". The Age. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Lankan born woman elected Mayor of Australian city". Weekend Nation (Sri Lanka). 30 October 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Samanta Ratnam – New Mayor for Moreland City Council". India2Australia. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  11. ^ Kandiah, Shanelle (22 March 2016). "Meet the Mayor of Moreland, Australia: Samantha Ratnam". TamilCulture. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Moreland City Council keeps citizenship ceremony, dumps Australia Day". The Age (Fairfax Media). 13 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Greens councillor Samantha Ratnam resigns from Moreland Council ahead of taking up position in Victorian parliament". Herald Sun. 11 October 2017.
  14. ^ Willingham, Richard (30 January 2016). "Greens enlist Moreland mayor for assault on Wills". The Age. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  15. ^ "Wills, Vic. AEC Tallyroom". Australian Electoral Commission. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  16. ^ Heath, Tamara (4 July 2016). "Labor's Peter Khalil claims Wills, but Samantha Ratnam and the Greens the big winners". Moreland Leader/Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber quits Parliament". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Victorian Greens appoint Samantha Ratnam to replace Greg Barber as state leader". ABC News. 12 October 2017.
  19. ^ "Greens name ex-mayor of Moreland as party leader before she even takes her seat". The Age (Fairfax Media). 12 October 2017.
  20. ^ "New MLC sworn in; Dr. Samantha Ratnam". Parliament of Victoria. 19 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Victorian election Upper House calculation results confirm Labor, crossbench domination". ABC News. 11 December 2018.
  22. ^ Parliament of Victoria Notice Paper No. 177,$File/NP177.pdf?Open
  23. ^ "Far-right threat under spotlight as Andrews government backs probe". 30 November 2021.
  24. ^ "Victorian government pressed to deliver promised funding for threatened plants and animals". 2 December 2021.
  25. ^ "Victorian parliamentary inquiry into 'waste crisis' - Waste Management Review Victorian parliamentary inquiry into 'waste crisis'". 8 March 2019.
  26. ^ Sakkal, Paul. "'Is this what compliant looks like?': Victoria's crossbench conflict". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 1 December 2021.

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by
Meghan Hopper
Mayor of the City of Moreland
Succeeded by
Helen Davidson
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Australian Greens Victoria