The AOC has amended its constitution at today's Annual General Meeting (AGM) to ensure there's a permanent Indigenous voice on the AOC Athletes' Commission.
The Annual General Meeting passed an amendment that will require at least one Aboriginal and one Torres Strait Island representative on the Commission.
These members may be elected by athletes competing at a Summer or Winter Games – or directly appointed by the AOC Executive following advice from the AOC Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC), if no Indigenous athletes were elected.
AOC President John Coates says the AOC's commitment to reconciliation has gained significant momentum since the Constitution was amended in 2015 to recognise the heritage, culture and history of Australia's first peoples and to give practical support to Indigenous reconciliation through sport.
"That was an important first step back then, and this is another today. I congratulate the Athletes' Commission and its Chair Steve Hooker for this initiative. They have worked hand in hand with our Indigenous Advisory Committee led by Patrick Johnson to ensure we continue to make real progress.
"Next month, the AOC will launch its "Reflect" Reconciliation Action Plan. In July this year, a new group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes will fly to Tokyo to represent Australia as Olympians in Tokyo, adding to the 52 very proud Australian Indigenous Olympians.
"Our Team will carry a piece of ASICS kit which features a design by Indigenous Olympic boxer Paul Fleming. And we have appointed Olympian hurdler Kyle Vander Kuyp to our Olympian Services Team for Tokyo.
"The AOC will continue to promote the stories of our Indigenous Olympians. They are incredible role models.
Chair of the AOC Indigenous Advisory Committee Patrick Johnson says the cooperation between the IAC and the AOC Athletes' Commission has had a positive impact on both groups.
"As an Olympian, a proud Kaanju man and Chair of the IAC, I am a great believer in timing. My thanks to Athletes' Commission Chair Steve Hooker for his drive to achieve this recognition. The time was right for this constitutional change to create mutual understanding and respect through a journey of walking together.
"With Steve's help, we conducted the "Walk with Us" forum held in late 2020 which reinforced my view that we can successfully engage and create awareness among Olympians and fellow athletes. Recognition, acknowledgment, and reconciliation. They are big words, to have real meaning, we need to lead by example. We have a long way to go, but we have taken another important step."
AOC Athletes' Commission Chair Steve Hooker says the Commission is immensely proud to have achieved this outcome with the AOC's Member Sports passing the resolution.
"Engagement with Patrick and his colleagues on the Indigenous Advisory Committee has made a significant impact on me in every respect. Having the opportunity to sit in on Indigenous Advisory Committee meetings has created that opportunity for us to share knowledge.
"Today's Constitutional change will create an enduring legacy for Indigenous advancement through sport. Olympians and our Olympic sport have a huge opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to reconciliation."
Orders of Merit
The AOC's highest honour - the Order of Merit – for was formally conferred on the late James Wolfensohn and Dr Helen Nugent.
James Wolfensohn KBE, AO competed in the Men's team epee in Melbourne 1956. While his Olympic career was brief and for him "the most exciting time of his life", his career in international business and finance makes him a towering figure in our history.
A legal, then banking career saw this great Australian rise to become head of the World Bank – an organisation he utterly transformed, putting people first and leaving an enduring legacy globally.
Dr Helen Nugent AO is honoured for her contribution to the AOC as an invaluable member of the Australian Olympic Foundation's Investment Advisory Committee over a ten-year period.
Dr Nugent's contribution has seen the AOF continue to grow and protect the capital base of the AOF while providing sufficient income for the AOC to fund its Teams and community programs.
The 2020 Report of the AOF Chair can be found here.
AOC President John Coates Address can be found here.