Greens senator Lidia Thorpe’s former chief of staff says he was scared and appalled by her outburst in a meeting with two Indigenous community leaders at Parliament House last year

describing her behaviour among the most unprofessional conduct he has ever witnessed.

Lidia Alma Thorpe is an Australian politician and businesswoman representing the Australian Greens. As of August 2022 she is a senator in federal parliament for the state of Victoria.

She is the first Aboriginal senator from Victoria, and since June 2022, she has served as the Greens' deputy leader in the Senate.

The claims by Thorpe’s ex-top adviser reinforce the account of the meeting by Aboriginal elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, aged in her 70s, who has previously alleged the tirade of abuse levelled at her by the senator distressed her so much that she sought medical attention from the parliamentary nurse

David Mejia-Canales, who resigned from Thorpe’s office in June, accompanied the senator to the meeting with Atkinson and Marcus Stewart, the co-chairs of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, and their policy adviser, Nicole Schlesinger, to discuss the state’s treaty process in a committee room in Parliament House, Canberra, on June 22, 2021.

In the email, a copy of which has been obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mejia-Canales said he still did not know why Thorpe had agreed to the meeting only to proceed “to behave so badly”.

“Since that meeting, I have wanted to reach out to you to apologise because the conduct that I witnessed at that meeting was by far one of the most unprofessional displays I have ever seen, not just during the length of my career, but in my life,” the email said.

Mejia-Canales described his shock at how the meeting “went so wrong and so quickly” and said his “biggest regret” was not ending the meeting sooner. He said he ended the meeting by getting a colleague to call the room’s phone.