Patrick Dodson has been awarded the 2009 John Curtin Medal his leadership and dedication to reconciliation in Australia.
The John Curtin Medal is awarded every year to outstanding people who have exhibited Prime Minister John Curtin’s qualities of vision, leadership and community service by contributing to society in a positive way.
Mr Dodson, 61, is known as ‘father of Australian reconciliation’ and is one of the most respected and influential Aboriginal leaders.
Born in Broome, Mr Dodson was Australia’s first ordained Aboriginal Catholic priest before he shifted his attention to politics.
Mr Dodson has since participated in a range if high-profile forums such as the Council for Australian Reconciliation, the Apology to Indigenous Australia’s Stolen Generations, the 2008 Australia 2020 Summit and The Australia Dialogue. Mr Dodson was also awarded the Sydney Peace Prize and the Senior Australian of the Year this year.
In his acceptance speech Dodson recounted the Latin inscription placed under the door of his studying cell ‘multus ex parvus’ meaning ‘there is much of out of very little’ as metaphor for his life.
‘What ever little talent you have, it’s very important to leverage it, as far as it can go,’ Mr Dodson said.
‘Have often thought this, coming from the background I do, coming from poverty – I wasn’t even a citizen when I was born.’
Mr Dodson drew attention to the unfinished business of Australian reconciliation and commended the many Australian’s who dedicate their time and energy to this cause.
‘As a nation we stand condemned because we have not been able to fix up our own backyard,’ he said.
‘The integrity, respect and value of being Australian, has got to be one that we can stand with comfort and pride. That all citizens should have access to education and opportunity. That all classes of people should be involved… and that we should be working for the value that enhances the totality of our nationhood.
‘That there is not one individual in this nation that we should deem of no value. That everyone is of value.
‘The fabric of our nationhood is something that we have to knit together in order to make the beautiful tapestry that we know we are capable of doing.
‘That’s the challenge of reconciliation, that’s the challenge that many, many wonderful Australians set about daily, to achieve. In receiving this award and recognition, I accept it not only for me but for all those Australians.’