Indigenous activist Mick Dodson has been named Australian of the Year and immediately called for the date of Australia Day to be changed.
Announced at ceremony held in front of Parliament House, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd thanked Professor Dodson for his lifetime commitment to Indigenous activism.
Dodson edged out retired Australian fast bowler and breast cancer campaigner, Glen McGrath, singer/song writer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu and seven other nominees to win the honour.
He is the eighth Indigenous person to named Australian of the Year with Cathy Freeman being the last to win the award in 1998.
In accepting the award, Prof Dodson said January 26 represented a “day of mourning” for many of his people and proposed a “conversation” about when Australia Day should be held.
Dodson, 58, is a member of the Yawuru people of Western Australia and a professor at the Australian National University. He has spent his career campaigning for improvement in the lives of Indigenous Australians.