ACT News

Wallabies and Brumbies star David Pocock is the ACT Australia Day ambassador

A self-confessed "unconventional choice" as ACT ambassador, Rugby World Cup star David Pocock says Australia Day is "a very difficult day" for Indigenous Australians because it commemorates "some truly terrible parts of our history".

Rather than be concerned about what Pocock might say in his role as ACT Australia Day ambassador, Chief Minister Andrew Barr is proud the ACT Brumbies flanker is so outspoken and wishes "there were more people like him".

David Pocock.
Wallabies and Brumbies star David Pocock says Australia Day is "a very difficult day" for Indigenous Australians. Photo: AP

Born in Zimbabwe, Pocock migrated to Australia 14 years ago and he was thankful of the opportunity his adopted country provided him.

It's seen him become one of the world's best rugby players and he played a large role in the Wallabies making the World Cup final.

But he also has a social conscience - whether it's campaigning for same-sex marriage, getting arrested for protesting against a coal mine, pointing out NSW Waratah Jacques Potgieter's homophobic language to a referee or co-founding charity Eightytwenty Vision, which helps Zimbabwe communities become self-sufficient.

While Pocock said Australia had much to be proud of, he also encouraged Australians to "deal with the tragedies of our past" and reflect on those less fortunate.

His duties as ambassador include cooking the barbecue at Commonwealth Park on Tuesday, as well as attending the annual citizenship ceremony and fireworks.

"For Australia's first nation's peoples it's a very difficult day – commemorating the arrival of the British and some truly terrible parts of our history," Pocock said.

"My hope is that these celebrations will include our intentions to continue to support the equal and life-giving opportunities for all of us who are the Australian people.

"So this Australia Day, let's celebrate what's great about Australia, let's reflect on our shortcomings and renew our commitment to continuing to make Australia a great nation so that everyone, from our first peoples to our most recent – even those that arrive by boat – can truly live in a lucky country."

 Barr said freedom of speech was an important part of being Australian, which was one of the reasons he backed  Pocock for the role.

"David is outspoken on many issues and I'm proud of that," Barr said. "I'm really proud that this community in many different facets supports that – from the Brumbies organisation, rugby union in Australia, the Canberra community and Australia more broadly.

"What that is a reflection of is how much work David puts into so many different causes. I wish there were more people like him in our community."