Mr Patrick Dodson has been awarded the 2008 Sydney Peace Prize for his courageous advocacy of the human rights of Indigenous people, for distinguished leadership of the reconciliation movement and for a lifetime of commitment to peace with justice, through dialogue and many other expressions on non violence.
Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation Alan Cameron says, "It is significant that the Peace Prize jury's choice of Patrick Dodson can build on the momentum for justice and reconciliation for Indigenous people which was given such a boost by Sorry Day on February 13th."
Peace Foundation Director Professor Stuart Rees comments, "The jury was impressed with Patrick's work for reconciliation internationally - in Northern Ireland and in South Africa - as well as by his creative leadership of the Lingiari Foundation and as inaugural chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
In the history of this Peace Prize, Patrick is only the second Australian recipient. In 2001, former Governor General Sir William Deane was recognized for his work with Aboriginal Australians and on that occasion he was presented with the Prize by the Reconciliation chair, Patrick Dodson."
Commenting on news of this year’s choice of the Sydney Peace Prize, the Director of the Edmund Rice Centre, Phil Glendenning, says "This is a wonderful choice. Patrick is a great communicator, a significant leader, the nearest Australia has to a Nelson Mandela."
Speaking from Broome, Mr. Dodson has responded, "I would be very honoured to receive the Sydney Peace Prize. I thank the jury for considering me and my work worthy of such recognition."
Other distinguished recipients of Australia's only international prize for peace have included previous Nobel winners Professor Muhammad Yunus and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian author and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy and, last year, the Swedish diplomat and disarmament advocate Dr. Hans Blix.
Patrick Dodson will give the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture on November 5th in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House"- Sydney Peace Prize
Born in 1948, Patrick Dodson became Australia's first ordained Aboriginal Catholic priest. In this challenging role he sought to balance and blend Catholicism and Aboriginal spiritual belief. This led him into conflict with the ecclesiastical hierarchy and, after many years of confrontation, he finally left the priesthood.
Finding ways to bridge Aboriginal and European-Australian cultures also motivated Dodson's subsequent involvement in a range of significant activities, including indigenous land rights, the Reconciliation movement and his work as a commissioner on the Inquiry into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
While Dodson's trademark Akubra hat and flowing beard have been familiar on the national stage for many years, he has never lost his Kimberley roots from Northern Western Australia. His activism has been conditioned by the experience of colonisation in Western Australia and many of the people, incidents and issues that appear throughout Paddy's Road are West Australian in origin, focus or interest. Dodson resigned from his founding chairmanship of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in 1977, partly in disillusionment and partly to reconnect with his traditional country around Broome. He continues to be active and as busy as he was in the full glare of public life.
Sydney Peace Prize Winner Patrick Dodson quotes Barack Obama's on his recognition of America's flawed relationship with its first peoples, American Indians. He does this to parallel Australia's need for the same kind of recognition.
"The American President-elect has begun his dialogue, based on partnership, and recognition of the flawed nature of the past relationship with his nation's first peoples," says Dodson.