House debates

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Statements by Members

Sport: Football, Nicholls, Sir Douglas Ralph (Doug), KCVO, OBE, JP

1:47 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Fans of Australian Rules will know that we are currently in the midst of the AFL's Sir Doug Nicholls Round, which coincides with National Reconciliation Week. Held annually, the Sir Doug Nicholls Round celebrates the culture and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players of our great game. I have a special affinity with this round—not only because I love footy, but because the Nicholls electorate that I represent in northern Victoria is named after Sir Doug Nicholls and his wife, Gladys.

Born in 1906, Sir Doug, a Yorta Yorta man, played football for Tongala before heading to the city. He was short in stature but lightning quick. He played 54 games for Fitzroy in the VFL and was the first Aboriginal player to play for Victoria—something he did four times.

After football, Sir Doug became a pastor and a pioneer for reconciliation in Australia. In 1972, Sir Doug and Lady Gladys travelled to London, where he was the first Aboriginal Australian to be knighted. He was appointed Governor of South Australia in 1976, becoming the first Indigenous person to hold that post.

I'd personally like to pay tribute to the work that Sir Doug and Lady Gladys did. In many ways, they laid the groundwork for the great work that Adam Goodes and Michael O'Loughlin are doing at the moment with their GO Foundation and Troy Cook is doing through the Wirrpanda Foundation. I wish I'd had a chance to meet Sir Doug and Lady Gladys, but I'm sure that, if they were alive today, they'd be just as proud of those great young Indigenous men as I am.