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Aboriginal AFL player and anti-racism campaigner Adam Goodes has been named the 2014 Australian of the Year.Prime Minister Tony Abbott presented Goodes with the award at a ceremony on the lawns outside Parliament House attended by a large crowd of dignitaries and fellow award finalists.
Goodes, a Sydney Swans legend and dual AFL premiership winner, was chosen from a diverse field of nominees that represented the scientific and medical communities, the arts and community groups.
According to the National Australia Day Council, Goodes was chosen "for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on the sporting field and within society - a stance which has won him the admiration and respect of people around Australia".
The two-time Brownlow Medallist won recognition last year for his stance against racism after a 13-year-old girl called him an "ape" during an AFL game at the MCG.
Describing the Australian of the Year award as "a huge honour" for "doing stuff that I love and [believe in]", Goodes said his early experiences with racism had shaped his outlook and spurred his interest in advocacy work.
"Whilst it has been difficult a lot of the time, it has also taught me a lot and shaped my values and what I believe in today," he said during his acceptance speech.
"I believe racism is a community issue which we all need to address and that's why racism stops with me.
Read our full profile on the anti-racism campaigner and Sydney Swans legend.
"There are always two ways we can look at a situation. We can choose to get angry or not. We can choose to help others or not, or choose to be offended or not. We can keep our silos or educate ourselves and others about racism and minority populations."
Goodes urged fellow Australians to take a broader view of race relations, and also to treat "people the way you want to be treated".
"It is not just about taking responsibility for your own actions, but speaking to your mates when they take out their anger on their loved ones, minority groups, or make racist remarks," he added.
"It is about how you choose to give back and make a difference to those around you, your community or your country, that goes outside of just yourself. I believe we are all connected whether we like it or not. We are all equal and the same in so many ways. My hope is that we as a nation can break down the silos between races, break down those stereotypes of minority populations, Indigenous population and all the other minority groups."
Describing himself as "a very proud Indigenous man from Adnyamathanha tribe" and proud to be an Australian, he said: "I'm not here to tell you what to think or how to act or raise your children. All I'm here to do is to tell you about my experiences and hope you choose to be aware of your actions and interactions so that together we can eliminate racism."
Goodes holds an esteemed place in AFL history having won two premierships with the Sydney Swans.
The 34-year-old is also a four-time All-Australian member of the Indigenous Team of the Century, and has represented Australia in the International Rules Series.
However, he is also seeking to make a difference for his people, particularly troubled youths, with whom he has worked in detention centres.
He runs a foundation with his cousin and former teammate Michael O'Loughlin that aims to assist young girls and boys to get an education and a job, and also promotes healthy lifestyles.
He concluded his speech by urging his compatriots to have "a great Australia Day".