Adam Goodes, the Anti-racism campaigner and Sydney Swans footballer has been named Australian of the Year.
Prime Minster Tony Abbott presented the award to the 34-year-old Indigenous AFL star at a ceremony on the lawns outside Parliament House last night.
Goodes was chosen by the National Australia Day Council “for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on the sporting field and within society – a stance which has won him the admiration and respect of people around Australia”.
In 2013 Goodes received recognition for his attitude towards racism in Australia after a 13-year-old girl labeled him an ‘ape’ during a match at the MCG. After the incident Goodes said that ‘racism has a face. It’s a 13-year-old girl’.
During his acceptance speech last night Goodes described the award as a ‘huge honour’.
“I’m a little bit overwhelmed, to be honest. It’s not like winning a premiership or winning a Brownlow medal for the skills that you show on the football field, it’s quite amazing.” he said.
“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. We can keep our silos or educate ourselves and others about racism and minority populations.”
Goodes also encouraged all Australians to approach racial relations with a ‘treat people how you want to be treated attitude’.
The ceremony also saw Fred Chaney, a founding member in Reconcilation Australia, being named Senior Australian of the year, along with paralympian swimmer, and eight time gold medalist Jacqueline Freney named young Australian of the year.