Rugby league star Johnathan Thurston was overcome by tears after being awarded a human rights medal at a formal ceremony in Sydney.
Thurston on Friday received the Australian Human Rights Commission medal in recognition of his ongoing commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Queensland Australian of the Year for 2018 has championed indigenous education and accommodation through the Deadly Kindies and NRL Cowboys House programs.
The North Queensland co-captain wiped away tears on stage while declaring he was “truly humbled” to receive the award.
“This far outweighs what I’ve achieved on the field,” the indigenous mentor said at the ceremony.
“In rugby league, players come and go, I want to make sure my culture is around for thousands of years like it has been.”
The Cowboys House ambassador – a home for 50 indigenous students from remote North Queensland – accepted the medal with one of the students on stage.
“Even though we have come a long way with education and certainly closing the gap, we still have a long way to go,” Thurston told reporters.
“The key is in education and making sure the young kids are getting the best access to medical services and education.”
Federal Attorney-General George Brandis congratulated Thurston on his achievements and the work of all award finalists.
“This is a very important day for human rights across the world but especially important for human rights in Australia,” Mr Brandis told reporters.
The commission’s annual Human Rights Awards recognise the outstanding contribution of individuals and organisations in protecting human rights and freedoms in Australia.