Tanya Hosch was last night named South Australia’s 2021 Citizen of the Year in recognition of her lifelong commitment to fighting racism and improving Indigenous outcomes.
Ms Hosch, who is currently the AFL inclusion and social policy general manager, is the first Indigenous person and second female to be appointed as an AFL executive and has held a number of leadership roles across the sport, art, culture, social justice, and public policy sectors.
Ms Hosch told NITV News that while she was surprised to be nominated for the award, she is honoured by the recognition she has received for her important contribution to the county.
"I grew up with a keen sense of justice, and that is something that has impacted me from a young age, based on the racism and discrimination I experienced," said Ms Hosch.
The award commended Ms Hosch for her ongoing community leadership and unparalleled work in pursuing constitutional recognition of Australia's First Nations people.
In a statement announcing the award recipients, Australian of the Year Awards organisers said Ms Hosch's leadership in the AFL had paved the way for women, First Nations people and the entire community.
Accepting her award at Adelaide Oval on Monday night, Ms Hosch said she was “pretty surprised” to be recognised for her efforts, such as her work in founding the advocacy organisation ‘The Indigenous Players Alliance’, instigating the review and eventual overhaul of the AFL’s anti-vilification policy, and her leadership in the social media campaign that worked to inform and protect Indigenous communities against COVI-19.
Ms Hosch said in her acceptance speech that while most of her work is inconspicuous, she finds value in creating a public conversation around challenging topics, such as racism.
"I think one of the things that every nominee here understands is that you can't change things on your own. It takes a community, it takes a whole society,” she said.
The award organisers described Ms Hosch as a “leader, changemaker and visionary” and acknowledged her ongoing commitment to driving change.
Ms Hosch was honoured alongside three other South Australians for their service to the community in a ceremony attended by South Australian Governor Hieu Van Le and Premier Steven Marshall, and will join candidates from other states and territories for the national award ceremony on January 25 next year.