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Jul 23, 2009

Ian Thorpe: Australia's dirty little secret

In a speech given in London earlier this month, Australian Olympic legend Ian Thorpe dove head first into Australia's failure to address the problems in indigenous communities.

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In a speech given at the “Beyond Sport Summit” in London on Thursday July 9, 2009, Australian Olympic legend Ian Thorpe dove head first into Australia’s failure to address the problems in its indigenous communities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, first may I thank you all for participating in this wonderful event. I am incredibly excited to be able to address you in regards to Beyond Sport.

For me this is an ambiguous topic.

As you may or may not be aware I am indeed an Olympian, I am no longer competing as a swimmer. I do take pride in my achievements in the pool and the valuable insight and education it has allowed me to take on, as I travelled the globe throughout my career.

When we speak of athletes there is a great deal that we know, like what is required of them, for me that meant 30 hours of training a week. We do this training just so we have a sporting chance to fulfil our life long dreams.

My travels with my sport since I was a very young and shy 14 year old opened the world to me, I didn’t realise at the time that this adventure would turn into a career beyond my wildest dreams.

I was the youngest male to ever represent Australia in swimming. By 15 I was the youngest ever male world champion. At 16 I broke four world records in four days and at 17 I was Olympic Champion, I had fulfilled my life long ambition as a child. I quickly realised I was a child in an adult world.

It was the child in me that throughout my career questioned why? Why is it so? Why is it done that way and why is the world the way it is?

In my travels, competition took me to places where sometimes I was met with abject poverty, whilst I simply swum. Why was my life so blessed when others just by fate had less opportunity than I? I guess I witnessed at a very young age how sport is an international language, a language that transcended borders, boundaries, cultural ideology, politics and even socio economic disadvantage.

I have only discussed my career up to when I was seventeen. It is because when I was 18 I established my charity, “Fountain for youth”. I didn’t realise at the time that this may be my biggest accomplishment. An achievement not in the sense of doing something right, rather a stepping stone where my values that I had gained from sport could be transferred to something that is bigger than sport and in my opinion far more important.

That said, sport was what has made me who I am today and has afforded me the privilege to work beyond sport. My charity work didn’t begin at 18, I was just 15 when I began working with those less fortunate then myself. It was those years that shaped my understanding of what charity was. It gave me an insight into the power of celebrity and sport, especially in sport mad Australia.

I realised my value to organisations trying to bring positive change lent enormous weight to these causes. I must say though this should be an outrage, because as an athlete I am not as qualified to comment on health or education as the health professionals and educators who daily tackle the big issues. In fact it is a bit disappointing that a teenager’s opinion garnered more attention than those who had been working on their chosen causes before I was even born. This realisation of the opportunity that my voice and name could lend to an excellent cause was the simple foundation laid, for my very own charity.

I continued to win medals, breaking world records and continued travelling around the world recognising the needs of people, particularly children, in many places I visited. By this time my charity had enough money raised to commit to larger projects, I sat at a board meeting and stated that I wanted to help the world’s neediest children.

I started to think of what impact my effort could have in places like Africa or South East Asia. I then visited some of the worlds neediest communities, places without access to planes and cars that seemed to be a world away … but now they were truly at my back door.

The communities that I visited had illiteracy levels at 93% … that was staggering only seven percent of a populous being able to read and write. Up to 80% of the children in these communities have serious hearing impairments because of “glue ear”; middle ear infections neglected from infancy. These kids will never hear the teacher in front of them in a classroom … that is, if there is a teacher and indeed a classroom.

Malnourished mothers are giving birth to babies that are seriously underweight and this only gets worse throughout a life born into poverty. Here diabetes affects one in every two adults. Kidney disease is in epidemic proportions in communities where living conditions; primary healthcare and infrastructure are truly appalling.

In this part of the world even the community leaders are afflicted by clusters of chronic illness. Syndrome X, the doctors call it, diabetes, renal disease, strokes, hypertension, cancer and heart disease. Some people die with four or five of these chronic illnesses.

Rheumatic heart disease among the children in these places is higher than in most of the developing world. But I was not visiting communities in the developing world, I was in the middle of Australia, remote, yes, but this is Australia, a country that can boast some of the highest standards of living of any nation in the world. How shocked I was that Syndrome X was afflicting so many of the 460, 000 Indigenous people of my country. As a result of these chronic illnesses and conditions Aboriginal life expectancy has fallen twenty years behind the rest of Australia. For some of my fellow countrymen life expectancy had plunged to just 46 years.

Australia’s grim record on health care for Indigenous people is by far the worst of any developed nation. Developed? How can a country be “developed” when it leaves so many of its children behind? Australia has not provided its citizens with an equal opportunity for primary health care, education, housing, employment, let alone recognition and a life of dignity.

Now I don’t expect you to just take my word for it. I am not a Doctor, I am simply an athlete. But ask Australian health professionals like Doctor Jim Hyde who says that while our nation has plenty of medical problems, only Indigenous Australians are facing a genuine health crisis.

The Governor of NSW, my home State, Professor Marie Bashir, an eminent Child Psychiatrist, has repeatedly pointed out the national disgrace of allowing the forty per cent of Indigenous children under the age of fifteen to put up with health problems found in no other developed nation. Patrick Dodson, winner of the Sydney Peace Prize and one of out greatest Statesmen, identifies health as a human right for Indigenous Australians.

“Only the most urgent government action”, said Australia’s “Father of Reconciliation”, “could change the inequality that has created this health tragedy in our own backyard.”

How could citizens with the greatest need be so under funded? If we were to indeed recognise the severity of this gross neglect, funding to these communities should be extradited.

A commitment to the first Australians is well within the means of my country, and this is what I find inexcusable. I am talking about an issue with a solution. For Australia to heal its wounds that have been weeping for 200 years we must not ignore the issue, we must start the healing.

Like many people in Australia I was completely unaware of the huge gap in health and education outcomes let alone the differences of life expectancy. I, as many had, made an assumption; Australia is a rich country, don’t we throw a lot of money at that problem? It disgusts me to speak those words now but that was what I thought. This was not just my lack of knowledge of this area but it is echoed throughout my nation.

An Aboriginal health expert, Shane Houston says:

Aboriginal people are viewed by too many in the Australian community as an unwelcome burden on the nation. Governments say they have spent a lot of money on Aborigines but where do you see the results in this squalor? So the mainstream concludes that Aboriginal health is a waste of money. It is all the fault of the poor blacks.

My people are somehow expected to just extricate themselves from this maze of life-threatening conditions. And if we can’t manage to do that, then many white people will shrug and say our end is inevitable.

Visiting Aboriginal people, in their homes, their communities, on their land, has allowed me to listen and given me some idea of the problems that Aboriginal people face. I listened to the concerns of mothers and fathers for the betterment of their children. This unwavering strength, in the face of social injustice. Within these communities I witness poverty, despair and pain … but I also see hope … hope from those men and woman who want more for their children.

With the words of these people in my head, I became part of a campaign in Australia called; “Close the Gap”, it is quite simply a program that recognises the difference between Indigenous and non Indigenous life expectancy in Australia and the huge gaps in all of the factors like education, jobs and housing that leave Aboriginal people so deeply disadvantaged.

Close the Gap is a commitment that this difference is unacceptable. It was supported by the Government and also the opposition. This is the kind of action that is required in Australia. The issue of Indigenous health and education goes beyond government, it is a fundamental right. I hope all sides of government continue to commit to this policy as a starting point and it is not another hollow promise that falls short.

Just this week Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd said that it was “devastating” that a new report by our productivity commission showed that Aboriginal people had made little progress to close those gaps since 2000. He said this was “unacceptable” and “decisive action” had to be taken. The truth is that none of the problems I have mentioned can truly be rectified until our government and my fellow Australians recognise the injustice faced by Aboriginal Australians and how they are denied so many human rights.

This has been highlighted once again by what is called in Australia “The Intervention”, the Federal Government’s takeover of 73 remote Aboriginal communities.

The Intervention was constructed by the previous government and has since been reported to have been assembled in the space of just one day. The irony is that Aboriginal people had been campaigning for decades about the living conditions and the neglect of their children within their communities. The programs to protect and nurture the children, had been grossly neglected and under funded by government over the last decade. What appears to be a political stunt and a grab for government control over Aboriginal people continues to this day under the new government.

Once more an Australian government has claimed it is doing its best for Aboriginal Australians by taking over their communities, appointing white managers, more government bureaucrats, promising all kinds of things, if Aboriginal people will just sign over their communities under forty year leases to the Federal Government. And politicians wonder why Aboriginal people do not trust them.

The truth is for over 200 years Australian governments have neglected and patronized Aboriginal people.

The Intervention is unlikely to provide any lasting benefit to Aboriginal people because it tries to push and punish them, to take over their lives, rather than work with them. One of Australia’s oldest and wisest Aboriginal leaders, Galawuy Yunupingu says the only way forward is for Aboriginal communities in these remote areas to be led and organised by their own organisations. Assimilation will not work.

So in the work I do, the way I try to contribute through my organisation, Fountain for Youth, we work with Aboriginal teachers, health workers, parents and children, with the health services and the schools, to encourage people to believe that we can move forward together. We support pre-schooling, health education, literacy backpacks that let kids carry home reading for the whole family. And we use sport where we can to make a difference.

As a swimmer, who would have thought I would have ended up supporting Flipper Ball, junior water polo for little Aboriginal kids in the mining communities of Western Australia. As a swimmer, who would have thought I would be back at university studying psychology and at the same time working with young Aboriginal university graduates on a mentoring program to help get more kids to complete High School and go on with their studies. As a swimmer, maybe I was expected to just be satisfied with the gleam of those gold medals. But all sportsmen and women know the truth — there is something beyond sport.

There is the challenge of playing a part in the human family … to contribute and make a difference. We can use sport and use our sporting status to improve the lives of children and whole communities in so many places. We can make it a fairer, safer playing field for everyone.

In twenty remote Australian communities and with thousands of Aboriginal children I know life will have some extra opportunities if I commit to work hard on this.

I do intend to work hard at this for the rest of my life.

That is my promise to you — beyond sport!

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85 comments

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85 thoughts on “Ian Thorpe: Australia’s dirty little secret

  1. Phil

    You’re more than welcome SBH. A good education is the only answer, pay teachers more money.

  2. SBH

    Great contribution to an important problem Phil, Thanks for your effort

  3. Phil

    SBH

    I can see there’s been a lot of taxation wasted on your education or lack of it.

  4. jeff1500

    it would seem mr. thorpe struck a nerve. wow. so much effort put into your hatred. do something productive with all that energy, crikey!

  5. SBH

    Oh G man your so funny, go to the Treasury website open the pdf file on the budget. compare dollars spent on aborigines compared to the rest of us, find out its about 50%, muse about why blackfellas don’t just drag themselves up by the boot straps. Still happier chucking rocks than doing something productive. Maybe if your mum had hugged you more (or is that hunged).

    Now I know that this will set you off and you’ll feel the need to strive for relevance by spitting back some bit of nastiness or silliness but that’s ok. The rest of us will just get on and try to work as best we can for a better world. I await your vituperative response.

    Your not JamesK are you?

  6. mrgeelong

    Go to the FaHCSIA website, open the PDF of the Portfolio Budget Statement 2009-10, page 27. There is your billions going to Indigenous issues, and that is in both remote, suburben and urben areas accross Asutralia.

    The stimulus packages were designed to have people spending to keep retail and tarde sectors aflow in the most populated areas and guess what it worked. Do you even understand any of the money issues you just spoke about.

    And as for the race card Thorpe played and you used. The department in charge of Indigenous affairs has a 10% indigenous employment rate, considering that there are only about 500,000 indigenous people in Australia, making up about 0.5% of the population thats pretty dam good.

    As for the housing issue. They don’t own the houses they are in at the moment. Thoses Houses, and I use that word very sparingly, are owned by a corporation who didn’t want to loose the right to run them – the Government contracts are fairly large. They need to be taken from this corporation because of miss-management.

    What will happen now is they will be on a 40 year lease (worth over $135 million) and any person(s) living there will have to full the standard continutions of a lease. Not a problem for a vast majority of the people who live there, but for the ‘evil minions’ that break the place into pieces can be moved out, thus making a safer place for the majority to live.

    How do I know this, wait for it…. because its reported in a varity of newspapers across the country! Try reading beyond the one or two that you do now and you will see. Look for the online verious that cover NT, Cape York, Broome etc.

  7. andy egg

    I am in awe of this speech by Ian Thorpe.
    In sports mad Australia, I am not used to the notion of a famous sportsman speaking so eloquently “beyond sport”.

    There is great worth in him making such a speech, because of “the power of celebrity and sport, especially in sport mad Australia”. His opinion carries weight here. And like apartheid South Africa, speaking out about our unfinished business back in the old country carries even more weight (with the colonial cultural cringe in full effect). Big shame job.

    Ian Thorpe must not have made this speech lightly. He must know that it would have the content largely ignored by the Australian mass media outlets, and open him up to the kinds of character assassination that always happen in this country when someone in a privileged position dares to shine the light on this issue – Australia’s great untreated, septic, weeping wound (surely at the heart of any notions of nationhood, civilisation, and claims to being a developed country).

    I think there are so many great points raised in this speech, eloquently voiced:
    “A commitment to the first Australians is well within the means of my country, and this is what I find inexcusable. I am talking about an issue with a solution.”

    The Australian government is spending billions upon billions of dollars in stimulus. If this “nation” and government was true in it’s word to address indigenous disadvantage and suffering, then that money could have been put to work for the solution of this issue. It would all still be stimulus, the money gets spent, perhaps more effectively than much of the stimulus package is being spent now. There are plenty of big infrastructure projects needed. We the “settlers” could have done the great work. But the will is not there and it is “inexcusable”.

    What makes me very sad is to see what can be accomplished by Australians when the will is there. Look at the Victorian bushfires and the national response.
    Imagine if that great generosity of spirit was harnessed for our First Peoples and their even worse predicament ?

    And Ian Thorpe speaks directly to the point of the so called “intervention”. A topic that has been willfully obscured by governments and mass media when not deliberately ignored.
    “Once more an Australian government has claimed it is doing its best for Aboriginal Australians by taking over their communities, appointing white managers, more government bureaucrats, promising all kinds of things, if Aboriginal people will just sign over their communities under forty year leases to the Federal Government. And politicians wonder why Aboriginal people do not trust them.”

    And if you think all Mr Thorpe is doing is talking, read it again, e.g :
    “We support pre-schooling, health education, literacy backpacks that let kids carry home reading for the whole family. And we use sport where we can to make a difference.”
    And at the end of the speech, a young man who was able to work hard enough to break world records and win olympic gold says:
    “I do intend to work hard at this for the rest of my life. That is my promise to you”
    Do you doubt his word ?

    How many more will speak up and commit ?
    Could Australia ever become a healed and mature nation ?

  8. mrgeelong

    First, I believe you said you were a parent at one point so I ask – would you let Michael Jackson baby sit your child? If you said no, then is it right to take his money?

    Second, people can take things to place and say things that might make others uncomfortable – but changing things like the truth to be able to do it may not be the right way to do it.

    If the comment was made that something is being doen but not enought, thats one thing. To get up and give a speech that really may have made more sense years. Its not a secret, the intervention was world wide news. I don’t really understand this concept that Ian Thorpe has come and brought light to some dark corner that was hide from the people by Government conspiricy – its just not like that.

    Billions has and is still going. Effectively the activity of Nation Buildings has happening and it is not fast or easy and in places with de-stablising factors and a lack of security it has a high level of failure.

    Australia as a developed nation has a role to play in the rest of the world which it can do because it is developed nation. More attendtion is given to its views, it gets a larger say in matters and is able to train world class swimmers

  9. Heathdon McGregor

    If you consider people smug and not ignorant then please refer to them as smug.

    All the best

  10. Zulu Lulu

    Apologies to anyone reading this (is anyone really, still?).. What I have done or do is minimal to so many I have worked with and every single day I come into contact with yet another who has little but does much. To have much and try to do something, even minor is no less impressive than for one with nothing. All it means is that they are not sitting back doing nothing. Once again, changes do happen but there are always detractors who put in red tape or in many cases, divert the funds and attention away from its intended target. Small minded people can ridicule Michael Jackson (not you I know but this will be my past post so am trying to get it all in) but fact is, millions went to helping others, and minions came out, only a few, but enough to damage the cause (even though they admitted lying, damage done). Having differing opinions does not make one ignorant, smug comments do. And as I said, while disagreements take precedence over action, the job wont get done. From the bottom to the top, disagreements stop progress or success. Now, let’s all stop this ridicule, remember, this all started because one man who could be just living it up for the rest of his life, decided to be brave enough to take the issue to a place where it was not wanted; make people uncomfortable and perhaps make many who would never know, aware of it all. Just maybe, there will be one in that group capable of change…???

  11. mrgeelong

    You know his got a point.

  12. Heathdon McGregor

    Dear Zulu Lulu

    I asked about your income in relation to when you were eighteen as I worked and helped at a community football club and that took most of my free time. I was assuming that you achieved a lot for the time and I couldn’t understand how somebody could achieve this, therefore I asked you a question_sorry.

    As for shooting the messenger, I did not introduce terms such as “evil minions”, “little whiney detractors” “the ignorant” or “devils playmates”. I asked I believe uncomfortable questions(as any about income/class are) as nicely as possible, without name calling in order to learn how somebody could achieve what you claimed.

    I addressed my questions to you as ,except for the name calling, you appeared to actually have some knowledge.

    Once again I pose the question

    You say lobbying changes things and it may take time but you say that you have been involved since the eighties but Mr Thorpe speech intimates nothing has been done. Has there been change and improvement through the charitable works or no?

    I dont know when the first charitable organisation was formed but I’m sure it was long before Sir Bob or Bono.

    Once again sorry for asking a question, I mentioned I was confused in the first sentence to try and stress that I was asking not opinionating but I guess I didn’t communicate it clearly enough to you.

    In regard to the snap comment, I have as much control over responses other than my own as you do.

    I agree with Mr Geelong

    Great for you, you did stuff, no one is trying to take than from you

    Once again all apologies for being ignorant(read having a differing opinion than you)

  13. Zulu Lulu

    Yes, you are right, it is not about anyone else here; it is about the so called secret. He called it that, to many of us it is no secret, but to the world it is. So it got the issue noticed in a wider arena. Good for him. That was his soapbox moment, I’ll bet if you dig a bit deeper he is doing so much more and not raving, just getting on with it…..I dare every single person with a mic or camera or money to actually take such a stand, on any needy issue.

  14. mrgeelong

    Its a comment section of an online news paper about one article, let it go.

    All the other guy was question something, and really it was in a pretty nice way and you get all worked up, and yet you question everyone else.

    Great for you, you did stuff, no one is trying to take than from you, the guy just asked some questions and isn’t that the point – to ask questions?

    I’m sorry you don’t get mention in books or on TV, but by the sounds of it thats not why you did your bit – and before you get angry again – lots of people do that and they just keep going along (also not a secret).

    The article is about Thorpes rant about Australia. Maybe the guy want to make a stand, maybe he just took a change to get noticed. The point is that its not a secret, and this undeveloped country is a big part of what made him (I’m sure he pay the AIS back for all the training and travel).

    And also, step back beacuse its not about you. I get it you saw things and its pissed you off every since, but its not about you.

  15. Zulu Lulu

    Oh my goodness, it really is easy to whack such a target. Believe me, my 18th year was far from wonderful and I had spent a lot of time going off the track. Might it reassure you that I was from a poor family consisting of as well as Aboriginal people, at last count a lineage of over a dozen countries? Firstly let me say it is not about ‘me’ but once again it seems shooting the messenger is a lot of fun for some people. I worked some pretty rough jobs for that income so please don’t assume I did not need money. Like many I have met over the years, getting up before dawn after a late night of making sure things are okay, study, work, housework and whatever else was needed does not equate to an easy or privileged life so keep assumptions and childish ‘snaps’ to yourself. If surviving meant living in the constant fear that the muddy water you are treading is going to consume you, then yep, I survived and rather than take cheap shots at others, I just got on with it, thanks. My mention of celebrity for charity work was just to highlight to the ignorant that they have the mic, so they can be heard, but once again, whoosh straight over the heads of the ignorant. Please know that actually, physically doing the work alongside such worthy people who never get their name in lights, hah, I have done that but as I said, they do not get their names in lights. One of my colleagues could see 100 dying patients a day, so much so that he has a permanent disfigurement from leaning over them on their beds, one by one, rushed along, all day every day. He lived and probably died a poor man, but he helped thousands. The evil minions to the ignorant and simply put, are the devils’ playmates who spend their lives attacking others with little upsets to stop anything good from happening. And as for Mr Keating, he was a big mouthed nasty figure who did little but line his pockets and stop many good things from progressing, all the while boasting about his achievements (ie others’ hard work). Every single person has the ability to make a difference in this world, yet few do. And please, let’s not dismiss the suffering of others by saying that our own backyards are any poorer than the next. And if you are brave enough to live and work amongst the ‘poorest of the poor’ by all means, dress your resume up. I don’t have one. But I do have many pics… Whatever gets you through the day, dear fellow, if it includes just shooting off your mouth, it is a wasted day, even if it does make you feel superior… Meanwhile, back to the task at hand…

  16. mrgeelong

    Oh snap!

    So maybe its not really a secret

  17. Heathdon McGregor

    Dear Zulu Lulu

    I am confused by your comments. At eighteen you seem to have been wonderful. The frustration shown by some commentors here is the same you express about Dr Fiona Stanley.

    I thought Mr Pilgers series of documentaries for the bicentennial shone a light on these issues so I find it seems odd that in the nineties it was considered irrelevant as I recall we had a Prime Minister who seemed forthright on Blackfella issues in Mr Keating, by your comments you were involved and would know better but I am just relating how it seemed to me.

    I cant see how you could achieve what you did at eighteen and still earn a living. It sounds like you didn’t need an income. If so then good for you, some people need to spend a lot of their time surviving themselves and dont have as much time to involve themselves with others lives.

    You only seem to quote celebrities as examples of charity work. I would name Dr Hollows before any you mentuioned. Especially Bono who fronts the biggest Dutch band in the world for tax reasons but spends his time telling governments what to do with their money. (They were Irish until taxation on artists was introduced then bye bye.)

    The evil minions are perhaps people who question rather than slavishly follow celebrities who try to tell the rest of the world how to live. You say lobbying changes things and it may take time but you say that you have been involved since the eighties but Mr Thorpe speech intimates nothing has been done. Has there been change and improvement through the charitable works or no?

    Once again I prefer the shining light on the hill version, make you life and local area as good as it can be and then spread the actions that work around, not he find the poorest of the poor so I can feel superior and have nice photos for my resume.

  18. Zulu Lulu

    No worries Peter. It is a little comforting that the interest and support is growing. When I pushed for change back in the 80s and 90s the issue was considered as irrelevant, self made and something that swung between either so small that the community could ‘fix’ it, or something that really didn’t exist. If I had collected enough to write a book, then there must be many hundreds of unwritten books on the same subject, all unheard. Detractors have always been the voice box of the issue sadly because they speak the loudest. When Dr Fiona Stanley got on board I couldn’t help being a little miffed because years of letter writing and calls to relevant medical groups amounted to nothing. But, she is on board. I do wonder why it takes so long to make a difference but when we know that such negativity abounds, such hiccups lay squarely at their feet. I truly believe that many want to make a difference but don’t know how; when we have ‘able’ people being held up by the naysayers, it explains a lot. Lobbying the government really does make a difference, maybe not immediately but as they say, plant a seed and somewhere down the track it will grow. The fact does remain, a young man, rather than an older and apparently wiser person in the same boat wants to make a difference, did not see or had not been exposed to a charity able to caretake what he aimed for. He has the podium and even if it only starts one or two on the road to make a difference, he has done it. We all know who he is and maybe it will take a swimmer to do what others haven’t. After all, if it weren’t for Sir Bob and then his more vocally eloquent counterpart Bono, it would not be ‘in’ to try to help the world’s starving. They proved that position and privilege can make a difference, as did Diana. At the end of the day, the little whiney detractors will do little to change the world for the better, but those who actually ‘act’ just might.

  19. Peter Johnstone

    Thanks Zulu for taking the time to repond for the record in such considered and thoughtful words to superficial and discriminatory comments which I expect few thinking people would entertain. Seems some people can’t cope with an athlete (or perhaps anyone else) being prepared to make some well-informed comments on the scandalous life situations facing so many of our indigenous people. I guess they hope that attacks on the messenger might help to weaken the message. A quick glance at the overwhelming reactions above when there were more followers of this blog shows that most people endorsed the message and recognise that this is a major challenge facing Australia which we all need to struggle to address.

  20. mrgeelong

    See the world you would created would been great – we could have handle hands and sing ‘good morning star shine’.

    Wait isn’t spreading knowledge and ideas to expand the platform of thinking on an issue making a difference? Oh no, its only ok if its inline with what you were already thinking, sorry my mistake, where was I…

    Michael Jackson, thats really who you want to use as an example. Its just to easy so I’m not going to even bother.

    I see your work and spare time went into want you felt and needed to do – good for you. I’m sure an Olympian Swimmer had heaps of time on his hands to do great researh and think long and hard about the issue, looking across the spectrum of options before deciding the only way was to start his our charity, diverty money away from other charities, and wow he still had time to win!

    The man should write time management books, since he must have discovered how to put more hours in a week. He could sell them and change the world, then all that would be left to do is sing ‘Good Morning Star Shire’.

  21. Zulu Lulu

    As with Michael Jackson’s mammoth lifelong philanthropy, evil minions always step in to interrupt the good, Mr G. While sidestepping the issues, attention is drawn to negativity. Get over it and go and make a difference, please. For the record, at 18 I was raising my brothers and sisters, doing my nursing training, fighting against racism, fighting for our environment (with the evil minions stepping in big time). In this generation, my daughter, by 18 was already an African orphanage veteran and spent her spare time and pocket money buying goods and taking the train into town to help homeless people. For the record, huge charities often take a huge amount of money to keep afloat, before anything actually gets to the recipients. Small charities go by unnoticed yet manage on small budgets to save lives and build futures. I know as I have been part of both sides. Age is not a factor, neither is size (didn’t anyone ever tell you??) While you sit and make smart comments people are suffering. Excuse me while I get back to actually trying…

  22. mrgeelong

    Whats the saying “I live to give”.

    But I sure the world you would have created when you were 18, SBH, would be been great.

  23. SBH

    Thanks again for you thoughtful and constructive suggestions on this matter and on the subject of Charity MrG.

  24. mrgeelong

    Kevin, I fine you comments entertaining, but there right – everyone has their ‘dirty little secret’.

    I think this is one of those issues where ‘everyone is to blame and no one is to blame’. Every single stakeholder is this has planned a part, and that part has generally be in the very grey area of life.

    Once again its good see people expand on this – even the female warrior guy (maybe you should ask you mum to hung you more or maybe less). I stand by the comments that Thorpe is kind of an idioit who took and easy (and somewhat cheap) shot at Australia’s Indigenous issues.

    The really strange thing is that when you look past this article at what the event was really for, I don’t understand why he though it was the forum for he his, umm, whats the opposite of well though out and research speech? Oh thats right, his Wikipedia based speech.

    I like how he started a charty when he was 18. I have never understood these people who continually start charties. Basic economics will tell that a few large charities will do better that more and more small ones (running costs mainly and their reach, not to mention there is only so much money to go around and thining it out isn’t the best move). I get it when it is something that has been ‘missed’ by the major charities. And really lets only think back to when we were 18 – should we really be trying to shape the world as we wanted it when we were 18?

  25. Zulu Lulu

    Amen Peter. Kevin, heart or hart really isn’t the issue here. Whatever his personal life entails, we really don’t need to know. I know people who put their lives on the line daily and have never felt the need to know their personal stuff. Unless a personal secret is hurting another, it is their business alone, sorry.

  26. Kevin

    sorry lol – spelt ‘heart’ wrong 🙂

  27. Kevin

    I could be wrong, but isn’t there a social issue a bit closer to Thorpie’s hart which he should be addressing? I mean, how can he claim to be the people’s champion when there is one other cause ‘in the closet’ that he won’t address. And it needs to be addressed urgently!

    Thorpie, while we appreciate you wanting to get socially active, you need to get your own backyard sorted out before you look around mate.

  28. SBH

    Read up some more Geoffo, It was right wing whitefellas who decide to blame aboriginal people for their plight, read ‘the Little Children Are Sacred’ to see who is really to blame – http://www.inquirysaac.nt.gov.au/
    Not just another reoprt (damn these fat fingers) but one with practical recommendations, ever single one of which were ignored by the deeply conservative federal government of the day. Stop chucking rocks and start doing something useful

    Heathdon, with my regards http://www.pc.gov.au/gsp/reports/indigenous/keyindicators2009

  29. Peter Johnstone

    I’m with Zulu!

  30. Zulu Lulu

    My dear Geoffrey, only a very small and smug minority (thankfully) could comfortably make such a stupid comment. Child abuse has nothing to do with ‘gender warriors’ and as long as such blatant dismissal exists, so too will such abuse. The issues at hand have little to do with what you have raised here, just as low socio economic families have little to do with a history of abuse. If faced with an abused child of any background, what would you do? What would your advice be? “Get over it?” “It’s your fault…?” The issue at hand, as has been reflected in the more intellectual postings rather than your gender biased rant, will be rectified only when everyone who is able, makes inroads that are devoid of red tape and secrets. There are many indigenous experts who are able to advise, just as there are many experts in all areas needed to solve this problem or rather, group of problems. While negativity and ridicule like yours muddies the way, the focus will remain as it has for so long, and that is far from actually making a difference.

  31. Geoffrey Ross Fawthrop

    The first thing you need to do fellas, is get the left wing female social talkers and feminists out of the way. Then instead of them trying to blame everything wrong on aboriginal men, and doing another report, some practical men can try to actually do something.

    As long as the gender warriors are involved, nothing will ever happen, and it will “all be your bastard fault”.

  32. Heathdon McGregor

    Dear SBH thank you for addressing my question relating to the income levels. Sometyhing I had never seen addressed before.

    Do you have a link or address for the report you mention at the end?(fourth report) Thank you

  33. SBH

    Heathdon, the research I’ve seen indicates that at every income level Indigenous people are much worse of than dominant culture Australians. Data I’ve seen indicate the disadvantage suffered by the children of Indigenous parents in high socioeconomic status jobs increases as they move through school. The fourth Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report was released recently and is a sobering read.

  34. mrgeelong

    The longer this goes on, the further it moves from the story that started it, which is good.

    My first point was that Thorpe was an idiot, but his pretty so you can let that go.

    Thinking helps and its good that a vast majority of you are.

    I do like the last reply that gave the idea of research into the events, very wise – maybe someone should send that to Thorpe!

  35. SBH

    Ian Thorpe used the tools available to him to push this point and good for him. I don’t know what else he does but if this was all then it is a commendable effort.

    Some people do lots that we never hear about – Ex-42minutes reporter Geoff McMullen is regularly seen in the NT delivering books to communities. This is a big thing which clearly takes a lot of his time and effort but we can all do something in our own worlds.

    It seems the biggest problem with the Australian public’s desire to do something to improve the state of the first Australians is that we don’t know what to do. This comes out in several people’s posts. I’m not rapt at the way Mrgeelong expresses himself but if his point is we should do, not just talk, I agree.

    Simple things we can do:
    Find out what the state education department’s indigenous policy is and ask your local principal what they are doing about it (in Victoria its called Wannik and is readily available)
    Ask your employer if they have an indigenous employment strategy
    Read the little children are sacred report, chock full of good suggestions
    better still read just one story in the ‘Bringing them Home’ report
    Next time your organisation has an AGM or important meeting ask a local elder to do a ‘Welcome to Country’ or invite them as a guest speaker
    Find out about your local indigenous organisation and get to know it and its people.
    Ask you local junior (and senior) footy club if they’re involved in ‘boots for all’ or similar schemes.
    Challenge dumb racism when ever and where ever it rears its stupid ugly head

    things that dont help:
    havering on at each other about who does more or whether it’s enough.
    Think that someone other than us is going to fix it. There is no one other than us.

    Time’s short, let’s get to it

  36. mrgeelong

    How has he made it a nice place? Well Ian is into fasion, maybe all Central Australia needs is a make over?

    The conference he was at was meant to be a positive forum where leading sports figure got up and said how they and others can use thereposition in life to help.

    All he did was get up and talk about things as if it was 3 years ago – what secret? It’s common knowledge what’s going on out there. I’m sure he had good intentions – the road to hell covered in them – but to go somewhere and thing comments like Australian isn’t a developed nation is going make world a better place is a bit of a strech.

    Anyway I through a guy 10 cents the other day, so I guess at the moment that puts me one oup on him.

    Have any type of day you like.

  37. jeff gustavson

    Um, Mr. Geelong, what exactly have you done to make the world a better place? Or do you spend all your time trying to knock those who are expending energy to improve it? Have a nice day.

  38. Heathdon McGregor

    Now that this has been up for a while I would like to introduce something I think may help to solve more problems and that is a treaty between the inhabitants and the invaders. The blackfellas were invaded and through many admirable qualities of their peoples they have survived. I also admire the settlers who by force or choice or fear have settled and made their own piece of paradise here. I love this place and all of its peoples. I dont have guilt for what has happened anywhere because I cannot control what is done in my name.

    I propose that Mr Thorpe could use his public profile to organise a treaty between perhaps a local suburb/town and the traditional owners of their area(Redfern in his own state perhaps?). Start small. These people could produce a treaty to be referenced by all the communities in the country before the politicians, union leaders and anybody else at the trough gets their hands on it. Im told my country is racist but when the people were given the chance to do the right thing(unbelievably not done before) and we had a successful referendum(one of only eight?). I wasn’t even born but it was an example that maybe those in the trough are looking after themselves and their actions dont represent the rest of us.

    “In my travels, competition took me to places where sometimes I was met with abject poverty, whilst I simply swum”

    No Mr Thorpe you were paid, indirectly or directly,to swim and take money from these people

    “I sat at a board meeting and stated that I wanted to help the world’s neediest children.”

    Why the neediest? and why children? How about the people in your local area who need assistance. A shining light on the hill as it were, rather than the ego boost of helping the worst off. It wont be solved in a day.

    Now to the medical problems, I propose that the country be divided into girds and Army Training medical bases are set up in the remote desert where the grids cross. This would help grow communities away from the coast, train our service personnel in our conditions and deliver top notch medical care to the remotest of communities via black hawk helicopters. Applicants can apply to get medical accreditation from the army(thus taking the doctor making powers away from the ama, and people who aren’t so reachable become reachable.

    Just a question if anybody has ever done a socio economic evaluation of the gap. I mean that the life expectancy of somebody on a 100k household income is not the same as somebody on a 200k income. For arguements sake if we say that the communities that Mr Thorpe is referring to have an income of 50k then what does the gap look like when compared to other people in the same income bracket. I dont know the answer at all. It may add weight to the “closing the gap” mentality.

  39. Zulu Lulu

    Hey guys, (and I am guessing u r both guys?) how about putting an end to the fighting. Great ppl like Robbie Batzke who are standing up and forging a way ahead ‘IN PEACE’ rather than the common chest beating aggro, blame game or derision, please take a leaf out of his book. The fact is, Ian can cop a lot of flak for speaking out, and who cares if he comes from a privileged background? Is it so hard to believe that someone can have a heart for someone outside of their own world? There always has to be at least one detractor.
    As with everything, there are always two sides. To bring in the male vs female issue, regardless of how one is suffering, rape is rape and has nothing to do with the health issue. It goes on all around the world, always has; doesn’t ever make it right. Paedophilia is not acceptable in any community and to dismiss it with such comments as are on here, smacks of ignorance.
    There is no easy answer, and sadly all good remedies take time. I had an elder friend who would take teens out to the bush (almost 100km away from town) and let them walk in, sobering up on the way and revisiting survival skills. They were so far from tradition that they were wasting themselves on booze and pot. On the other hand I had a female teen friend who came to me pleading to get her away from the ‘old boy’ who had claimed her for his 2nd wife. She was educated and had a future, but was promised to tradition; yet at the hands of this family she was raped and beaten until she gave in. If we can’t accept that in other religions or ethnic sectors, we can’t accept that within our own.
    Like I said, opposing stories and difficult to ‘fix.’ Just like the health issue… Fact is, it always takes someone with public clout to be heard. Good on him for using his status to support a worthy cause.

  40. mrgeelong

    Thats the best reply I get, come on try a bit. Ian at least look up Wiki before his grand stand.

    I’ll give you another shot Jon, go for it!

  41. Jon Hunt

    Mr Geelong: Could you re-write that in english?

  42. mrgeelong

    Ian well done, its just shows that the education you have has lead you to Wiki. Really what the hell are you looking about, what would like to see happen?
    Facts are fun, here are some:
    *Recently a girl has had to move to Darwin from her community because she had the idea of reporting someone for abusing her – he got 18 months, she gets to leave and maybe not come back.
    *Life expectancy less than 17 of an non-Indigenous person, thats ok lets not go in and get data and research, lets ask and work with people who have next to no capicity to solve the problem themselves.

    I think the real victims here is anyone who had to sit in that room and listen to you.

    Ok yes you want to help, so help, but before we bring the view in maybe, just maybe you should think ‘hey there a LOT of information out there and a LOT of different ways to look at this.

    And finally, if you don’t think we are developed who is a better example, maybe North Korea, Burma, Sudan, China, Cuba or Syria – maybe one of these places could be called developed instead of Australia.

  43. keepitreal

    Sayings of wisdom and perhaps vision. Government follows public opinion, so real change needs to come from the people, from the hearts and minds of the individual belonging to the collective view.
    Inspiration is a very rare thing and rarer still the revision of the memory of lessons learnt from our past.

  44. sue.andrews

    Ian, great speech but we have been hearing this for years, your not the first and you wont be the last to shine a light on indigeous health issues in communities.
    I work for an AMS and I have witnessed first hand these 3rd world conditions my people live in or have to put up with.
    I’m not here to ask for a hand out but we have struggled for years to get full funding for Dr’s. in our community
    Govt talks about “Closing the Gap” well can someone please talk to the bloody bureaucrats on the ground who says yes or no to how much funding an AMS can or should have to fund a Dr.
    I am sick of the bloody bureaucrats and their red tape all the while our people continue to struggle to get better health services in our community.
    By the way Ian we are launching “the books for babies” program any chance of you visiting and being our special guest for this launch.
    My contact details sue.andrews@gyhsac.org.au

  45. Geoffrey Ross Fawthrop

    Sadly Feminist/Left wing politics is all about blaming aboriginal men for all ills. Then sending in an army female Social Talkers to dispense tea, sympathy, hatred for all men and then actually do nothing as usual. They just want to create more bureaucracy, provide more “jobs for the girls”, reports, surveys and sweep it all under the carpet again as they have done for 40 years.

    The former govt interventions may have been clumsy and not, also, directed at poor white communities, but at least somebody attempted to do something.

    The answer is the same as for all of our problems, the system (Government) is broke and needs fixing. Abolish the states and territories, hand all they do down to local government, where it (the provision of basic govt services, schools, hospitals, etc) is closer to the people.

    BTW it is also very easy to do.

  46. Noonkah1

    My people have sat like desert Sturt pea in full flower for some 220 yrs, they have seen Governments come and go they see them fly into communities with big promises to fix the problems then watch as they fly out never to be seen again.

    Ian Thorpe is again saying what our Minister for the enviroment sang about for many year, Peter’s only problem was that he was entised over the line by a political party known for false promises, my only hope is that Ian stands firm.

    We no longer live in a stolen children society, today we live in a forgotten one.
    Education, Health, Housing are only a few problems that are a daily seen in our society, drugs, alcahol and the wrong food intake are causing big problems in children not attending schools.

    The world needs to hear what’s happening and I commend Ian Thorpe on his stance, for to long as they did in 2000, Australia have tried to hide what Aboriginal people call Systemic Discrimination from the world.

    All I can say to my fellow Australians is that you should not be ashamed of the uknown factor but be prepared to listen to the voice crying in the wilderness a promise or a handshake will never heal what 200 year have created, but if you are prepared to stand back to back with a blackfulla for better conditions as black diggers did in all our world war conflicts then we welcome you.

    And as Matder said if you are dedicated to help then be prepared and buckle up for the ride…

  47. matder

    It is great that people are talking about it, but, action is the key! For those who have never lived in a remote community, it is much harder than it seems to achieve results. Its not to say that it wont work, but people have got to want to change. Many people have come and gone with the hope of changing communities… it simply comes down to the community. Australia must still come together to give its fellow brother and sister a hand, and give communities every opportunity to grow. Their culture is important, keep it. Help communities live their life in a modern world, don’t try and change them into anything other than who they are. They will make the decision for themselves.

    For people who will dedicate themselves to helping… please help, don’t judge and buckle up for a great ride!

  48. Stephen Grant

    I love it. I love when high profile politic, sport, art,religious, academic people arrive at a bush camp and see the kind of horror, just like mr Thorpe has seen – that the family in the next lane is swimming through shit, they cannot see the end.

    I love the passion swelling in the chest to say no more, end this suffering. I love the drum beating and like my family the eyes filled with tears when there is break though the cycle of hopelessness.

    I hate the pandemic. The pandemic of hopelessness. If this conditions happened inside the ring road of so called society it would be a national disgrace. Alcoholism, drug addiction, STD’s and malnourished communities is all a disease. It is a pandemic far worse than Piggy flu, it does not discriminate it stays outside the ‘news’ Ganya’n’grog is the at both ends of the horror- from the poorest kids to the top leaders. It is a disease. It is so bad that they hate white people like me for starting the problem and now turning up at the gate with a helping hand.

    What kind of pluck got Thorpe and Mr and Mrs thorpie to drive him to the pool everyday in the cold dark mornings so he could win the best of the best. Who will be the thorpie of Aboriginal community? And who will drive them to the pool so they can rise above the rest?

    I gave up. I gave up years ago, when I was told to go away and mind my own business. Sorry Mr Thorpe, maybe I should buy back my Landcruiser and go back out, I felt as most Australians who call Blackfellas mates, do a sense of total hoplessness

    Sorry

    PS Can we make your new fabulous Ian Thorpe Pool in Harris street Sydney 100% free to any blackfella for life. “The block” would love to be welcome and call it their own pool. ( I got kicked out of a Kununurra Hotel pool cause I let 5 little black kids swim in it while I did there shopping, they didn’t have togs, they had the best day in weeks.)

  49. Phil

    Fantastic Thorpy! Goodonya and thanks to Crikey for carrying this story. I wonder why I didn’t see it on any other Aussie media platform or as a news item anywhere! It’s a disgrace that’s why. There’s gotta be a better ways of getting the right people into our leadership positions. The system we currently have just doesn’t work.

  50. REZMOB

    I am an Aboriginal woman from Brisbane living on an Indian reservation in Arizona with my Apache husband and our four children. Thank you for your speech Ian. It brought tears to our eyes. As a native family, these issues are not new to us. However, when a person of such high profile, as yourself, CHOOSES to attach your name to these powerful words we honor your courage and pray those words reach the ears of many. Too deadly, brotherboy!

  51. Scoogsy

    While most of us knew this to be true, it is an inspiration to hear it from Ian Thorpe. He has grown quite considerably as a person, in my humble opinion. I always felt even under the lime light, that he didn’t feel perfectly at ease playing up to the cameras.

    This issue is up there with the most important in Australia and I applaude Thorpe for pursing it.

    We all need to step up and ensure we participate possitively to this critical issue.

  52. jacks

    PS: pardon my cynicism tho, ive heard so many empty words from celebrities and pollies from both sides that i fail to get excited when one more says the blatantly obvious.

  53. jacks

    YES! Ian is brilliant! Why didnt thousands of politicians talk about how big a problem we have? That would solve everything… oh wait, they did. People have been talking about what a big prolbme we have for generations, and when the odd sports person stops talking about sports and turns to talking about the aborigines suddenly he’s a great person? I think the fast majority of people already know there is something wrong, its just that no-one knows how to fix it.

  54. moira deslandes

    Thanks Ian. This week I went to Point Pearce and the locals were gracious enough to share their stories and themselves. They are so stretched and stressed as a community. 2 hours from Adelaide and a war zone – its a national disgrace. Keep speaking up Ian! Silence and invisibility are the enemy.

  55. Fiona Katauskas

    Why, though, did it take 2 weeks for his speech to be reported? The Aus only give it a token piece on page 3 the day AFTER Crikey ran it.

    If Ian Thorpe had have given a passionate speech about how fantastic Australia was at sport and how he was sure we’d win a million gold medals at the next Olympics, the f**ken story would have made front page of the Tele the day after it happened.

    He may not have had the answers but giving a shit is a good start. It’s just a shame his point about Australians generally not giving a shit was so amply proven by the woeful mainstream media coverage.

  56. mbyrnes

    Ian Thorpe is to be admired and respected for taking such a passionate stance on this issue.

  57. Michael Palmer

    What an insparational speech…

    At some level I was ashaimed to be an Australian… that we (and I personally) have done nothing for so long…

    Our politicians are not at fault here… they respond to the will of the Australian people (us.) Change will happen when each and every one of us stand up and say this is unacceptable… and demand action from our elected leaders.

    To all who are talking of empty rhetoric etc… you don’t have to be a famous sports star to make a difference… you can make a difference as an Australian citizen… write a real letter to your local MP and demand change. Write to your local newspaper and express your view… The change that needs to happen is the attitude and resolve of us the AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE….

    That WILL make a difference…

  58. Zulu Lulu

    I hope that Australia takes this on, but not only by attacking it after the fact. I have been trying to get funding for years to begin a supplementation (including indigenous medicines) but it has never been considered worthy. If the diet has changed constantly with white ways, supplementation is just one way to address it to replace missing nutrients, and that has been proven time and again, but because some expert hasn’t ‘proven’ it in a lab, money is wasted by studies and trying to fix it AFTER the problem gets so bad that nothing works.
    I gave a talk on Indigenous health and the errors of ad hoc drug poisoning without regulation (maybe not everywhere but in the hospital I worked in and one is way too many) and comparisons in using Traditional medicines at a Medical Symposium in 1991 and the most interest came from nations such as France and India!
    Let’s pray that maybe now interest will come from the right direction. PS I have always loved Thorpie, good on him.

  59. RICK68

    Thet say action speaks louder than words!

  60. Monika heiss

    GREAT SPEECH iAN, NOW LETS SEE WHAT COMES FROM IT.

  61. nickgonios

    Proud to say that I was only one of a few Aussies there at this sports summit in London! Ian both captivated the audience and demonstrated his passion and commitment to this issue.

    Also took a ‘happy snappy’ to remember the moment. Check it out at a photo during his speech:

    http://www.sportssymposia.com/photo/ian-thorpe-speech?context=latest

  62. typhoidmick

    Kudos to Thorpe for using his status and celebrity profile to bring attention to this issue. I do, however, agree with Heathdon who said nothing negative about Thorpe. Many have spoken about and worked for years to highlight this issue. I wonder if the attention will be more on Thorpe than the content of his speech. Lets hope not (as I’m sure Thorpe himself hopes) – like Heathdon suggests, it would be very interesting to track the responses (if any go beyond ‘Ain’t Thorpy great?’) And no, lets not sit back and do nothing. Lets keep the attention on the issue and not the messenger.

  63. Liz45

    Well said Ian. I loved you as a child, I respected and admired you when your swimming career took off, and I love you even more now. You’re a credit to your parents who obviously taught you some good values, and you’re a credit to yourself. Be proud!
    There are many of us who’ve been supportive, active and spoken out against aboriginal people being disadvantaged, patronized and humiliated, but a person of your stature has more impact on the general community. You’ll probably never know the impact this article has on the rest of the community, but you should be very proud – you’ve put your finger right on the problems that sadly indigenous people are being forced to endure!
    Well done! Thank you for speaking the truth so eloquently!

  64. paul noonan

    Ian Thorpe dove head first? WTF?

  65. Ali Weston

    It’s great to see people, such as Ian, use their profile in such a proactive, thoughtful and inspirational way. Excellent stuff. You can also find out heaps more information on Indigenous health by visiting http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/

  66. achalat

    It’s great to see that Ian’s speech is making such waves. At the Summit, his words truly impacted the figures who were there and now they’re actually making people address these issues more. Though there is a lot of ‘rhetoric’ going around – as Heathdon pointed out — Ian is a prime example of a professional athlete using his celebrity status to make a point about a serious issue. More high-profile athletes should follow in his footsteps and use their popularity to the advantage of developing communities and raising awareness.

    On the same topic of what Ian’s speech – a great Australian project, headed up by Cricket Australia, was recognised at Beyond Sport for their work called Two Strong Cultures and Imparja Cup. You can find out more about that project and others that do so much to improve issues around the globe through sport on our site: http://www.beyondsport.org.

  67. jeff gustavson

    what it’s all about. you get it and you’re doing a sanfrantastic job. now, please, start swimming again.

  68. Heathdon McGregor

    Dear Peter perhaps I do miss the point. My point is it good to voice concerns but some of the comments seem to interpret that he has achieved something with his comments. I felt the need to point out that he hasn’t actually done anything yet. I wonder if people who have spent their lives working to improve the lot of our original inhabitants feel about the gushing praise for words that reflect badly on their work from a recently interested person. As I said I hope crikey can keep updating the progress.

  69. paddy

    Well done Ian. I haven’t heard a more impressive speech by a sporting identity for ages.

  70. Steve Milburn

    I always knew Ian was a champion swimmer but, like many others, I had been guilty of underestimating his depth. While others swan around reliving past glories he has decided to use his profile to make a real difference. He is a true champion. Good on you mate.

  71. Peter Johnstone

    Heathdon, you miss the point. There are too many Australians who fail to accept the facts about our shameful treatment of our indigenous people. And too many who know the facts but do nothing. Ian Thorpe deserves credit for not only speaking out but also for doing more than most through his foundation. As for results, would you have us stop trying? Ian Thorpe’s leadership won’t in itself solve our disgraceful impact on the lives of indigenous people but let’s make sure that it helps. I’m pleased to see an athlete take this stand and I hope people from all walks of life are prepared to make similar stands.

  72. Heathdon McGregor

    More rhetoric and everybody falls over themselves to laud the athlete?

    Mr Thorpe is not he first person to voice these concerns, amazingly people before him have tried unsuccessfully.

    I dont have the answers either

    I hope results come from these words but I wont hold my breath.

    Perhaps crikey could plan to revisit results, monthly, quarterly or even weekly updating the progress made?

    Sorry for being the cynic but these words aren’t new.

  73. Tony Blackmore

    So we said “Sorry” and produced plans and more reports and surveys and more evidence of virtually zero progress.

    Ian has made clear his view – this issue demands equally outspoken support from every high profile Australian – and it needs them to keep on being outspoken.

    Governments have failed and continue to fail but us masses must force them to at last ACT!.

    Tony Blackmore

  74. Larissa Behrendt

    Thank you for your leadership on this issue, Ian.

  75. Carol Bruce

    Ian Thorpe – Australian of The Year.

  76. chinda

    Fantastic stuff, Ian.

  77. YKC

    Ian Thorpe is truly a rare talent. If only more were like him.

  78. David Siebert

    If only all sports people were as intelligent, thoughtful, altruistic and eloquent as Ian Thorpe. This certainly raises the bar and makes me even less tolerant of some of the stupid thugs that grace our news headlines. A guy like this makes you proud to be counted as an Australian.

  79. Steven McKiernan

    I had the privilege to work with Ian for two days when he was filming ‘Fish Out of Water’ about the current state of the environmental issues we are facing in Australia. He is a humourous young man, an engaging and down to Earth character. I was impressed with his quick wit and eagerness to seek out answers. This speech is entirely consistent with the person I worked with.

    Mature, engaged, driven to action and make change, and committed to the health of all Australians and especially Aboriginal Australians. I can only regard him with even greater respect.

  80. Peter Adams

    When a sports star is able to direct their achievements towards a higher aim, only then can they begin to lay a valid claim to greatness.

    While I could never stomach the hysterical rantings of sports commentators who fling superlatives around like confetti, the Ian Thorpe I’ve just read about here is truly worthy of respect and admiration.

    Ian, congratulations for stirring our consciences and for seeking to better yourself and the nation through study and your work beyond sport.

  81. Colin Jones

    Bravo Ian. Just how do we change the status quo where all we get is rhetoric from politicians and no really constructive way out of this grossly unfair state of affairs.
    The first Australians have been treated like garbage for 220 years now and I am ashamed of our country and have been for a long time now and despair. They at least have their own culture, unlike us who import ours and mostly from the U.S.A. They deserve better, much better from our so called prosperous country.

  82. acannon

    Good on you, Ian Thorpe. Now, we all need to step up as you have done.

  83. Jon Hunt

    Ian appears to have the wisdom to have been able to hit many nails on the head at once.

  84. Peter Johnstone

    This article by Ian Thorpe, a speech given at the “Beyond Sport Summit” in London on Thursday July 9, 2009, deserves much wider publicity. I am, no doubt unfairly, surprised at Thorpe’s mature depth of knowledge and understanding of the totally unaccceptable plight of so many indigenous Australians. The fact that Ian Thorpe understands this disgraceful situation might help other Australiands to recognise the need to respect and support our indigenous people.
    – Peter Johnstone

  85. denise allen

    Ian, what an inspiration you are. Your speech brought me to tears. Lets hope Governments of all persuasions read you speech and realise that our first Australians need a new kind of recognition. We can learn so much from them – what we need is a Bush University – run purely by Aboriginal people – located in an aboriginal community where both black and white Australians – particularly white Australians can go and study everything about aboriginal culture from the dream time to bush foods. Then white Australians will have a true understanding of how wonderful this culture is. Then we might truly have equality.

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