Story

The Australian Dream is the life story of AFL legend Adam Goodes. Adam has a Scottish father and an Aboriginal mother, who was taken from her family as a child and knew little of her roots. It isn’t until adulthood that Goodes starts to learn about his cultural identity and build an understanding of who he is and where he comes from.

Goodes is mentally very strong and believes that the harder he works the more he’ll improve. With this attitude, he wins two Brownlow Medals and helps to lead the Sydney Swans to victory for the first time in 72 years. Goodes becomes a source of pride for Aboriginal communities all over Australia, but his public profile highlights the way that not all Australians receive the same treatment. As Goodes begins to experience racial vilification, his feelings about the game he loves changes. He finds himself having to smooth ruffled relations and publicly accept apologies from professionals who continue to behave poorly. Goodes also has to tolerate hurtful comments from players and spectators.

When a young teenage girl shouts, ‘Goodes, you’re an ape!’ during a game, Goodes decides that enough is enough and he must take a stand. He begins using his sporting profile as a platform to draw attention to injustice and racism and start conversations about these issues. The social media storm that follows has devastating consequences. Also, crowds continue to boo Goodes for standing up for Aboriginal rights. Ultimately, the relentless insults and hostility result in one of Australia’s best-ever AFL players leaving the game.

Goodes goes home to a place where he can heal – a place where he’s loved and accepted, where the spirits of his ancestors can lift him up and help him find the strength to continue standing up for what’s right, and a place from which he can educate and inspire others.

Themes

Breaking down barriers; racism; Stolen Generations; connection between heritage and identity; injustice; footy culture; the personal impact of harassment on individuals

Violence

The Australian Dream has some violence. For example:

  • There’s discussion of family violence in the homes of family members that Adam and his brothers visit during childhood.
  • A spectator tells Adam he’s going to find out where he lives and kill his family.
  • There’s discussion of the history of Aboriginal suffering including poisoning, shootings and massacres. Photos show Aboriginal men with chains around their necks. Drawings show bodies being thrown off cliffs.

Sexual references

The Australian Dream has some sexual references. For example, there are brief references to the rape of many Aboriginal women.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Australian Dream shows some use of substances. For example:

  • People drink during Australia Day celebrations.
  • Adam recalls that there was always lots of alcohol at BBQs he attended as a child.

Nudity and sexual activity

The Australian Dream has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • There is an iconic image of Nicky Winmar raising his shirt to expose his chest during a game, pointing to his skin and shouting, ‘I’m proud to be black’.
  • Adam lifts his shirt and poses in the same position as Nicky Winmar, to salute Winmar’s courage.
  • AFL players occasionally pat each other on the bottom.
  • There are images of Aboriginal men clad wearing loin cloths and with chains around their necks.
  • There are drawings that show naked Aboriginal people from behind. The people are being shot or in battle.

Product placement

The Australian Dream has a close-up image of a child drinking a can of Solo soft drink.

Coarse language

The Australian Dream has some coarse and racist language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Australian Dream is an eye-opening documentary. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of Adam Goodes and the stand he has taken against racism, injustice and the suffering of the Aboriginal community, on and off the footy field.

The messages in The Australian Dream are powerful and the story is well constructed. Its confronting social issues and the past and current sufferings of Aboriginal communities deserve consideration and discussion and offer important lessons for all Australians, young and old. But this movie isn’t recommended for younger viewers.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • No matter who you are or how mentally strong you might be, words have the power to hurt.
  • Home has the power to heal.
  • The ‘Australian dream’ is rooted in racism.
  • As a society we need to stand together against injustice, hatred and cruelty.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include teamwork, respect, encouragement, justice, compassion, courage, resilience, determination, forgiveness, tolerance and understanding.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about:

  • the impact words have on others
  • the pernicious effects of racism
  • the courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in, even when you know things might not go the way you want
  • the the Stolen Generations and the continuous, intergenerational suffering this policy and practice has caused
  • the policies and behaviour that saw countless Aboriginal communities destroyed following the arrival of the British and what can happen when we don’t deal with history.