Beginning by acknowledging elders past and present on traditional Ngunnawal land, Adam Goodes went on to deliver a humble, emotional and selfless speech as he accepted his Australian of the Year Award on the forecourt of Parliament House on Survival Day.
An Andyamathanha man, 34-year-old Adam was a deserving recipient of this prestigious award. Not only is he one of the greatest AFL player’s of-all-time, winning not one but two Brownlow Medals, he is a man of his people and the Australian people. Through his anti-racism work he strives for equality for all.
“It’s an honour to receive an award for doing stuff that you love and what you believe in,” Adam says in his acceptance speech.
“For me, I chose that life is all about actions and interactions. I believe that our choices and how we interact with each other creates our relationships and this in turn creates the environment we live in. Our environment shapes our communities which then shapes the country we all live in.”
He then goes on to say that he has faced racism in his lifetime and, although that it is difficult, it has helped shape the man that he is today.
“I believe racism is a community issue which we all need to address and that’s why racism stops with me. There are always two ways we can look at a situation; we can choose to get angry or not, we can choose to help others or not or choose to be offended or not,” he says.
“We can keep our silos or educate ourselves and others about racism and minority populations. It is not just about taking responsibility for your own actions but speaking to your mates when they take out their anger on their loved ones, minority groups or make racist remarks.
“It means treating people the way you want to be treated, whether that’s your manners, the way you talk to people, whether they are your loved ones or the person serving you dinner. It’s about how you choose to give back and make a difference to those around you, your community or your country – that goes outside just yourself.”
In a country as special as Australia, Adam says that racism holds no place in our society although it is rampant – this is why as a nation that is connected in many ways, we must make racism history and be proud of our heritage.
“I’m not here to tell you what to think or how to act or raise your children, all I’m here to do is tell you about my experiences and hope you choose to be aware of your actions and interactions so that together we can eliminate racism,” he says.
Adam went on to express his gratitude for the award but points out that the greatest reward is when we can unite and start talking about and educating each other on racism to rid our nation of it.
“I’m so grateful for this award and this honour, however, the real reward is when everyone is talking to their mates, their families and their children, having those conversations and educating others about racism; what it looks like, how hurtful and how pointless it is and how we can eliminate it,” he says.
“The ultimate reward is when all Australians see each other as equals and treat each other as equals. To me, everything is about people and the choices we make – I believe it’s the people and interactions between us that make this country so special.”
Pictures courtesy of the National Australia Day Council.
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