Alumni News Articles

Transcript of Geoffrey Rush, Australian of the Year 2012, acceptance speech

28 February 2012

 

Our population today is 22,811,410 - I am very proud to be one of that number.  This is a great honour for a performing artist in theatre and film. I feel sure that my colleagues will see this as an endorsement of our national story of creativity. 
We’ve grown in less than two generations from a relative wasteland into a unique species of native tree that only the soil of this rich country can cultivate.
Two other actors have received this. I follow in the deft footsteps of ROBERT HELPMANN who in 1965 said “I don’t despair about the cultural scene in Australia because there isn’t one here to despair about” 
Twenty years later the second recipient PAUL HOGAN said - “this is a knife!”  
Both of them gave us a call to arms. Both sides of this house created film schools, training and funding institutions for many artforms -  a structure for a Creative Nation. 
But where would we be without the resilience of the passionate arts-workers who chose to NEVER, EVER give up building an Australia with an industry that could question and express itself.
For forty years on my shopfloor, I’ve worked alongside robust sweaty troops who respect their job as a professional calling, and have written the bountiful chapter we’re reading now in 2012.  We are the plucky country!
We’re told at any given moment we’re no further than a few metres away from a spider. This statistic is now also true for The Arts!  
Unfortunately, like spiders - it means we can be invisible … some people, too many, don’t know we’re there. And there are quite a few who want to whack us with a newspaper… 
But I know that hardwired into every Australian - from every background - we love acting the goat, taking the mickey, cracking a joke, spinning a yarn.
And we live on an island that boasts the oldest nation on earth – there is an inspiration right there  - where performance rituals are at the heart of its being … our dreaming…
… the stories we tell ourselves-  as adults … and to our children …in the communal dark - have a serious importance …  and it takes the energy from an audience to bring this to life!

Our population today is 22,811,410 - I am very proud to be one of that number.  This is a great honour for a performing artist in theatre and film. I feel sure that my colleagues will see this as an endorsement of our national story of creativity. 

We’ve grown in less than two generations from a relative wasteland into a unique species of native tree that only the soil of this rich country can cultivate.

Two other actors have received this. I follow in the deft footsteps of ROBERT HELPMANN who in 1965 said “I don’t despair about the cultural scene in Australia because there isn’t one here to despair about” 

Twenty years later the second recipient PAUL HOGAN said - “this is a knife!”  

Both of them gave us a call to arms. Both sides of this house created film schools, training and funding institutions for many artforms -  a structure for a Creative Nation. 

But where would we be without the resilience of the passionate arts-workers who chose to NEVER, EVER give up building an Australia with an industry that could question and express itself.

For forty years on my shopfloor, I’ve worked alongside robust sweaty troops who respect their job as a professional calling, and have written the bountiful chapter we’re reading now in 2012.  We are the plucky country!

We’re told at any given moment we’re no further than a few metres away from a spider. This statistic is now also true for The Arts!  

Unfortunately, like spiders - it means we can be invisible … some people, too many, don’t know we’re there. And there are quite a few who want to whack us with a newspaper… 

But I know that hardwired into every Australian - from every background - we love acting the goat, taking the mickey, cracking a joke, spinning a yarn.

And we live on an island that boasts the oldest nation on earth – there is an inspiration right there  - where performance rituals are at the heart of its being … our dreaming…

… the stories we tell ourselves-  as adults … and to our children …in the communal dark - have a serious importance …  and it takes the energy from an audience to bring this to life!

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