Today, the first Sunday in September, is Father’s Day in Australia and New Zealand. On Friday it was announced that Steve Waugh is Australia’s Father of the Year for 2005. My congratulations to him.
Waugh received this year’s award primarily because of charity work with children in Australia and India. He has been an active supporter of the Udayan Children’s Home for leprosy sufferers in Kolkata. In Australia he is a patron of Camp Quality and the Spastic Centre of New South Wales.
And, of course, he’s the father of three children.
The Father of the Year award is made to “eminent Australians” who have made outstanding efforts in raising their own children or for their contribution to the development of children in the community. Waugh is the second Australian cricket captain, after Mark Taylor (1995) to win the award, and the third cricketer, Alan Davidson (1982) being the first.
The complete list of past winners reads like a rather conservative and unsavoury list of authority figures – prime ministers, governors-general, military leaders et cetera, though recent years has brought forth more diversity, with winners like Slim Dusty, Dr Karl and bionic ear inventor Dr Graeme Clark.
While Steve Waugh is a thoroughly deserving winner of the award, the Father of the Year award in this country will only properly mature when it recognises that there are more eminent sportsmen than just Australian cricket captains, and that eminent indigenous Australian fathers deserve a go.
On a personal note, today is my third Father’s Day, and I dedicate it to the fathers of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who face the enormous task of rebuilding their families’ lives, so devastated this week by the wrath of nature and the negligence of government.