We can't all be Ian Thorpe

January 26, 2000

We can't all be Ian Thorpe

By Marina Carman

Now don't get me wrong, Ian Thorpe is a great swimmer. But watching the media coverage of "our" new Young Australian of the Year made me want to puke.

It might seem like this is just a little award, but get a load of this from Thorpe: "My message to the youth is to really go out there and do their best. That is all that anyone can ever ask of anyone else. And if you do your best — that's all you can ever do — then just hope that that's going to be enough to achieve your goals."

Well, working hard and hoping isn't enough for the majority of young people today. Thorpe has become another bit of window dressing for the worsening situation of Australia's youth, helping to obscure the grim reality of high youth unemployment, the increasing costs of education, super-exploitative youth wages and declining income support for young people.

The award should be given to young people who really make a difference.

Young Australians of the Year 1998: Yes, it's the Resistance high school students who walked out of school to protest against racism and the bigotry of Pauline Hanson.

Young Australians of the Year 1999: Yes, it's the young East Timorese refugees who arrived in Darwin after surviving, and bravely resisting, years of murderous occupation by the Indonesian military.

Let's all try our best for more justice for young people — and all people — in 2000.

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