8 December 2018, Brisbane, Australia
Wow. The last time I had an award I was looking at the other finalist and saying to my wife I have no chance of winning the Queensland Australian of the Year. So I didn't go in prepared. [inaudible 00:00:19] I win that. So I'm a little bit more prepared today. Excuse me, I'm a little bit nervous up here. Kicking a football is much easier. The human rights medal is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia. It is truly humbling to be receiving this award. And I want to congratulate and thank all of the award finalists and winners here today for the work that they're doing within their own communities to make the country that I love a better place to live.
I'm more so thrilled to be able to share this opportunity with a special young Australian, Palmer, who is here with me today. Palmer is 13 years old. He comes from a remote community of Laurel on Cape York, far north of Queensland. This year was Palmer's first year at the NRL Cowboy's house, which supports some of the most disadvantaged young Australians to gain access to a quality secondary school education. Palmer has thrived in his home away from home, overcoming the challenge of attending a new school with over 1200 students. The last school that Palmer was at, the previous school he was at, had 20 students. I got to know Palmer and the other students as the ambassador of the house. And hear their stories and come to realize how resilient and how much progress they are making in the house, which is truly inspiring to me.
You may know that I'm passionate about my sport, my club, my state, and my country. But what I'm most passionate about is my culture. Excuse me. And the future generations of my people. I believe that one of the biggest drivers for social change, I need tissues. I believe that one of the biggest drivers for social change and to closing the gap is an education. And it starts with our young people like Palmer who is standing beside me. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position to work with indigenous ... Thank you. With indigenous youth from early childhood through to young adulthood. As an ambassador for programs like Deadly Kindies, which is getting parents to get their young children to an aboriginal medical service in southeast Queensland and Brisbane. We started with three medical services last year. These have been rolled out to the 19 medical services proving support for disadvantaged young Aboriginal people.
I'm just one person in a community of leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are working to create better lives for indigenous Australians. As a Queensland reconciliations awards ambassador, I can help raise awareness and recognition for life changing initiatives that are all making a difference. I'm in this position today because of my family, the sport that I play, the club that I represent, and mentors that have believed in me. And now it is up to me to take this responsibility and help believe in others like Palmer. To have access to equal opportunity, and are empowered to live their best lives. Once again I want to congratulate and thank all the other award finalists, and it is truly a humbling experience to be standing here to receive this award.
While I have received a lot of accolades in my career on the football field, to be recognized for the work I do in the community far outweighs the things I've achieved on the field. So thank you.