Alumni News Articles

Respect. Relationships. We've come so far.

18 January 2010

“This past year I have seen a country in which a boy from the red dirt who speaks an ancient tongue is embraced by a stadium of thousands. It’s a country where the great honour of being named Australian of the Year has been bestowed on eight Aboriginal people, and in which citizens are slowly but surely moving towards an understanding of what we share and taking greater pride in it. It’s a year I will never forget,” said Professor Mick Dodson, Australian of the Year 2009.

In an article published by the Sun Herald, Professor Dodson looks back on the things that have stood out for him over the past twelve months.

He reflects that people seemed genuinely unsurprised that an Aborigine is Australian of the Year.

“It’s this increasingly casual reaction to indigenous achievement and success that is a marker of how far we’ve come,” he said.

As the eighth Indigenous Australian to be honoured as Australian of the Year, Professor Dodson is pleased to see that this year more Indigenous Australian’s are finalists for the title, including Indigenous educator Dr Chris Sarra for Australian of the Year and AFL star Liam Jurrah for Young Australian of the Year.

Another key theme he identified during his time as Australian of the Year is the importance of respect and relationships.

“As I’ve travelled this year the things that I see working, particularly in schools, are working because of respect and relationships. I’m sure the new Australian of the Year nominees black and white who have been recognised for their excellent contributions to Australian life would readily acknowledge social change is impossible without showing respect and building and nurturing relationships,” said Professor Dodson.

He also talks of his focus on education and the disadvantages that children in remote and regional areas face.

“When I made education central to my term asAustralian of the Year I was thinking not only of the educational disadvantage of indigenous kids and their poor overall outcomes in comparison with other Australian students, but of kids of all stripes who aren’t getting a good run at the education they deserve. And I didn’t know then, as I know now, how often we’re failing kids, especially in remote and regional areas, in the services we provide them in quality and quantity.”

Professor Dodson would like to see more, ongoing financial support in these areas.

For the full article, click here.

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