I have just finished watching the documentary about our great First Nations Australian Football League [AFL] player Adam Goodes,The Final Quarter, in the Parliament’s Theatrette. Adam is a proud Indigenous man and yet he had a terrible time on the playing field in the final few seasons of his illustrious career. Sitting through that movie was confronting. I would recommend that every Australian person take 70 minutes out of their busy lives to watch the movie. I am a white Anglo‑Saxon person and when I was sitting in the theatrette I was embarrassed, ashamed and angered by the treatment of this great player. I was humbled and inspired by his reaction and I am sorry that any Indigenous person has to be on the receiving end of such treatment. I am inspired by the stand that Adam Goodes took and the unimaginable depth of courage, commitment and character that drove him to keep turning up to play matches week after week.
I am appalled by the behaviour of AFL supporters who relentlessly booed Adam Goodes because he is an Aboriginal person. He was not booed because he was a great player for the Sydney Swans. The Sydney Swans had many great players—I understand that supporters of the teams playing against the Swans would often boo their opponents at various venues around the country. But Adam was booed because he is an Aboriginal man. As Waleed Aly, from Channel 10’sThe Project, pointed out this was an attack on an Indigenous man in Australia. In recent years Waleed has become the conscience of our country in many respects.
We Australians like to think that we are not racist and that we live in a cohesive society, but, as Waleed Aly pointed out, that would appear to be the case only until a person from a minority group dares to speak up and step outside of the box in which the dominant white Anglo-Saxon group puts them. If a person from a minority group has the courage to stand up for who they are then sadly we as a nation cannot cope with that scenario. As I saw in the documentary and I know from my interaction with people in the community, racism in this country is often inspired by media commentators who say the most disgusting things on air. They drive divisiveness in our community under the banner of freedom of speech when in reality it is racist hate speech. I congratulate the documentary’s director, Ian Darling, because in the movie a handful of these racist people were called out.
They were not called out by the documentary somehow framing their messages against their will, but by their actual words, comments and newspaper columns being put up on the screen. In the documentary they are shown making racist comments on the radio or writing racist articles published on various media platforms. There was no misinterpreting of their words. We must recognise that these individuals drive divisiveness in our community and blame members of minority groups on every occasion they can. I was inspired by the movieThe Final Quarter. I encourage every person in Australia, no matter what their race, religion or background, to watch the movie. As members of this Parliament we need to call out racism every time we see it. From this day I will call out any act of racism I see, as I hope I have in recent years. Hats off to Adam Goodes.