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Vandals deface Australia Day plaque for anti-racism hero Adam Goodes

A plaque of indigenous football player Adam Goodes, the 2014 Australian of the Year, has been vandalised, writes Megan Gorrey.

Vandals have defaced a plaque that bears the image of champion indigenous football player and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, on the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore in Canberra. 

Goodes is one of dozens of high-profile citizens honoured on the Australians of the Year Walk, which starts at the western end of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge on the south side of the lake.

The walk, designed by the National Capital Authority, features plaques set atop concrete plinths with photographs and information about the annual winners of the Australian of the Year awards. 

A photograph of Goodes, who was named Australian of the Year in January 2014 for his advocacy against racism, was marred by a deep cross scratched in the aluminium plaque on Sunday.

Several other faces on nearby plaques had been lightly scratched but showed less serious signs of damage.

A handful of Canberrans, including ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, brought the damaged plaque to the attention of the NCA on Twitter.

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The authority used the social media platform on Sunday to assure residents it would repair the damage as soon as possible. 

Goodes, a Sydney Swans star who has been awarded two Brownlow medals and claimed two premierships, is considered a role model for young indigenous Australians and budding footballers. 

But it has been his staunch fight against racism, after he identified a 13-year-old girl in the MCG crowd who shouted "ape" at him in May 2013, which garnered him the most attention in recent years.

The 35-year-old was named Australian of the Year during Australia Day celebrations in Canberra last year.

At the time Goodes admitted he found it hard to buy into a celebratory notion of Australia Day "because of the sadness and mourning and the sorrow of our people and a culture that unfortunately has been lost to me through generations".

But he still found cause for optimism, he said. "We are still here, we've got a lot to celebrate about being here and that we have one of the longest-serving cultures still alive and kicking."