Julia Gillard delivers stirring inaugural Oration, receives standing ovation
Attendees were treated to a rousing inaugural speech by the Hon Julia Gillard AC.
Ms Gillard received a standing ovation for an Oration that began with the observation that a love of sport is quintessential to being Australian, and that sport has a unique capacity to bind people together. Indeed, sport can bridge divides across different cultural backgrounds, ages, genders, ethnicities and sexualities, while the former Prime Minister also reflected on the fact that sport can be the “heartbeat” of communities – particularly in rural and regional areas.
However, Ms Gillard observed that a “fair go” for Australians in sport doesn’t happen magically, but requires hard work. Across the world, she argued, a politics of division is not just being pursued at the margins but has become mainstreamed. Unfortunately, at home, this has been reflected in the treatment of some of our most loved Indigenous sports stars in Adam Goodes and Cathy Freeman as only two examples.
Ms Gillard was nonetheless optimistic about sport’s role as a vehicle for social change; citing the success of the Invictus Games and physical activity’s well-documented capacity to improve mental health and wellbeing.
In closing, Ms Gillard emphasised the continued importance of grassroots funding for sport. As one pertinent example, Ms Gillard noted that while women’s participation in traditionally male-dominated sports was increasing, cultural change was also required for girls and women to participate equitably in sport.
In trademark style, Ms Gillard also entertained patrons by outlining her vision for a new sporting franchise called the “Rangas”. Not for the first time, Julia floated the possibility of lacing up the boots herself - but added that she was “probably the only former Prime Minister who deep down doesn’t believe they could have played AFL”.