Goodes hands over Aust of the Year

2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes speaks at a luncheon for the Australian of the Year finalists at The National Gallery in Canberra.
2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes speaks at a luncheon for the Australian of the Year finalists at The National Gallery in Canberra.

AFL star Adam Goodes is ready to hand over the baton of Australian of the Year but he knows his journey is not over.

AFL star Adam Goodes is used to chalking up victories.

Last season, the Sydney Swans great came back from a possible career-ending injury to play 20 matches and help Sydney reach the grand final.

Off the field he spent 2014 kicking different goals - campaigning against racism and violence against women, and pushing for indigenous constitutional recognition.

As 2014 Australian of the Year, Goodes backed three causes: Racism It Stops With Me, White Ribbon and Recognise.

Since he was awarded the title, the number of organisations backing Racism It Stops With Me has increased by more than 30 per cent and supporters of Recognise grew from 178,000 to over 250,000.

And while Goodes is surrounded by sporting greats and notable Australians, it's the words of a 12-year-old girl that inspires him to keep fighting.

In his valedictory speech in Canberra, Goodes read out a letter from Brooklyn, a Wagga Wagga student, who wrote to him after he was racially abused by a teenager during the indigenous AFL round in 2013.

"I would like to tell you that I definitely admire the way you stood up for, not only yourself, but for everyone who is put down for who they are," the letter read.

"I believe that no one should be put down for what they look like, how they act, what colour their skin is. If you really think about it, it's just a colour."

Goodes was humbled by the number of letters like Brooklyn's he received throughout the year and thanked teachers and parents for starting conversations about racism with children.

"They are the future and they are the ones who really give me a lot of hope what this nation is going to be in many years to come."

The AFL star pledged to continue to stand up against racism and female violence and push for a referendum for constitutional recognition.

"To me, the heartbreak of this constitutional exclusion is that it denies the true span of our country's history to every Australian today and to all those into the future," he said.

"It will do so until we fix it."

Both major political parties have thrown their support behind constitutional recognition, however its form and timeline remain uncertain.

"For putting this right, (it) would be a defining and uplifting achievement for every one of us who now calls this nation home," Goodes said.

When taking the Australian of the Year crown, Goodes' dream was for Australians to break down barriers between races and treat each other as equals.

"Whilst we're not quite there yet, and still have a way to go, I feel that in 2014, we as a nation and community and as individuals have made progress," he said on Sunday.