“We hope to do more and better in the future.”
Farmer’s legacy in football is well known and lauded. But it’s his post-AFL career, in which he quietly worked with thousands of Aboriginal children, that will leave a big mark on this country.
He not only changed the lives of one generation, but helped set the course for generations of Aboriginal children to come.
The foundation has 1800 students in its program this year, with at least 200 graduating each year over the past decade, and “many more hundreds” in years seven to 11.
“Clinton Walker was in our first group of Aboriginal children,” Mr Chaney said. “He finished year 12, he became a diesel mechanic, and held a senior role at Rio Tinto.
“While he was at Rio Tinto, he was given the national award for Aboriginal employee of the year. And I remember hearing years ago that Clinton’s children, in a predominantly white school in Karratha, each came top of their school year.”
That’s what Farmer wanted to achieve – to give a generation of Aboriginal children a chance so they could, in turn, give their own children a chance.
“Clinton’s story captures the spirit of what the foundation tries to do,” Mr Chaney said.
“We’ve lost a towering figure in a whole lot of ways – he changed football and he thought about the future of Aboriginal people.”
Farmer has been remembered as a game-changer – a true leader on and off the field.
The AFL’s inclusion and social policy manager, Tanya Hosch, said Farmer’s legacy would continue to live on with the positive impact his foundation has on the Aboriginal community.
“He was one of those people who thought about the opportunity he had been given – and his own profile and his own success – and he wanted to pay that forward, to continue to be a leader off the field after having been so successful on the field,” Ms Hosch said.
Former AFL player Michael O’Loughlin said Farmer was not only an inspiration to Aboriginal footballers but that his story transcended tribes, races and eras.
“He was a very strong individual that withstood [the racism he was subjected to on field] and really did let his football do the talking. It must have been bloody hard at times, especially that era,” O’Loughlin said.
Sumeyya is a reporter for The Age.