I am sure that if you were to stop anyone in the street and ask them “Who is Adam Goodes?” they will likely respond with something along the lines of “He’s that guy that was complaining about racism in AFL” and not anything to do with his decorated AFL career. Sadly, during the time of the racist scandal that rocked the AFL, I was caught up in it and it is only now after seeing The Australian Dream, that I realise how I was so very, very wrong in regards to my views at the time.
Written by Stan Grant, the documentary explores the AFL Career of Adam Goodes and his rise through the ranks to become one of the biggest legends of our game. But there is a deeper and much darker side to this story, and it is that Australia has a racism problem. Whether it be from extreme right wing political views, casual racism that many are even unaware of, or our sporting institutions, it is clear that our society definitely has a racism issue. Most of all, our society has a systemic issue with the indigenous culture that has lived on these lands for tens of thousands of years.
Not only do we hear from Adam Goodes, but we also hear from St Kilda AFL Legends; Nicky Winmar and Gilbert McAdam who discuss the racial vilification of our game in the ’90s. Winmar was made famous for the image of a proud indigenous man standing against the racist taunts from the crowd, lifting his Guernsey and pointing at his skin. An image that is now immortalized with a bronze statue. We’re also introduced to Nova Peris who discusses the adversities she faced as an Olympian representing her country. Not only are each of these athletes battles are extremely shocking to hear, they are just as eye opening.
Adam Goodes achieved many things during his career, drafted to Sydney in 1997, four time All-Australian, dual AFL Premierships in 2005 and 2012, two time Brownlow Medalist in 2003 and 2006 and Australian of the Year in 2014. But most people will only really know him from the racial vilification fight during the 2013 match against Collingwood where a young 13 year old Pies supporter called him an ‘ape’. Where upon hearing the abuse, Goodes pointed it out to security and subsequently the girl was removed from the ground. In the age of social media, the response was quick and extremely vile. The messages thrown up on the screen during the documentary had my stomach churning. It made my blood boil even more when they interviewed Andrew Bolt (who clearly agreed to appear in the film), which had cinema patrons booing and scoffing at seeing his face on-screen.
You don’t often hear from prominent personalities about racism in Australia, nor are we taught about Aboriginal Culture in our schools. At least, I wasn’t taught about any of it during my time in school from 1990-2002 and I honestly wish that I had been. The stories of the Stolen Generations and how our government treated one of the oldest civilization on the planet as fauna until the 1960’s made me so very angry. I honestly (and sadly) learnt more about the oppression of Aboriginal culture in this film that I have in my entire lifetime.
The Australian Dream is a powerfully confronting conversation that Australia needs to have. I am so very proud of Adam Goodes and Stan Grant for putting this story together so that we can start to educate our society and younger generations that there is no place for racism in any part of our own Australian Dream.
As Adam Goodes said himself, “Racism stops with me.”
The Australian Dream is showing in cinemas now. Check your local guides for session times.