Let’s All Grab A Froth Whitlam And Cheers These Aussie Heroes Of The Decade

The 2010s are almost over, and we’re all reflecting on the good and bad that’s gone down over the last ten years.

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You might feel like the 2010s were a shithouse time – plenty of horrible stuff happened, and we’re rounding out 2019 with our country on fire and climate change deniers all over the goddamn place. But through the years there have been some 100/10 heroes that deserve a cheers, mates.

Grab a schooner, raise that glass and toast these goddamn Aussie icons.

1. Egg Boy

Fraser Anning, Egg Boy
AAP Image/David Crosling

The teenager whose simple act of smashing an egg on Fraser Anning’s head said more than any of our words ever could, the real heroic nature of Will Connolly was how he turned his cheeky larrikin act into a long-running stand for empathy and justice. From donating money to the NZ terrorist survivors, to using social media to continue making a stand against political bullshit, he proved to be more than just a momentary hero.

2. Tori Johnson & Katrina Dawson

The Sydney Siege of 2014 was one of the worst moments from this decade, but the heroic actions of Tori Johnson, who managed the Lindt cafe, and barrister Katrina Dawson will forever be remembered. Both were praised for their actions during the inquest into the terror attack, during which Tori was hailed for his composure while relaying key information to police while at gunpoint, for talking down gunman Man Haron Monis multiple times during the ordeal, and for staying in the cafe when a group managed to flee, to support several elderly hostages who couldn’t escape. This decision tragically cost him his life. Katrina tried to negotiate for other hostages, including her pregnant friend, to be released when Monis allegedly allowed her to leave the premises, which led to him refusing her release.

3. Saxon Mullins

In 2018, a Four Corners interview with Saxon Mullins hit the internet and launched a massive national conversation around consent. Saxon was the woman at the centre of a five year legal battle in which she had accused Luke Lazarus of sexually assaulting her in a Kings Cross alley in 2013, when she was 18 years old.

As sexual assault complainants remain anonymous during trial, it was Saxon’s choice to reveal her identity, and she did so in the hope that she could start a national conversation around consent. She did that and more – the interview and subsequent national conversation led to the Attorney-General calling for a review of NSW sexual consent laws, which then led to actual proposals to change the laws this October.

4. Mick Fanning

Anyone who punches a shark in the face in self defense is a fucking hero, obviously.

5. Bear The Koala Detection Dog

Fiona Clark/PA Wire

Aussies love a heroic animal story almost as much as they love an underdog yarn, and Bear the koala detection dog has both – an Aussie Koolie who was abandoned by his owners for being too much work, only to be taken in by the University of Sunshine Coast to work in koala protection.

This year, he was crucial during the bushfire crisis, because his unique ability to track down koalas by their scent, not through their poo, made it easier for him to locate injured wildlife. We don’t deserve Bear.

6. Adam Goodes

In 2013, a 13-year-old Collingwood supporter called Adam Goodes an “ape” during a match. He pointed her out and she was subsequently ejected from the stadium. What followed was one of the biggest national conversations about racism of the decade. People were divided – many piled on the teenager for her racist remark, and Goodes publicly supported her – saying while he had “never been more hurt”, the environment the girl grew up in was to blame, not the girl herself. He was given Australian of the Year in 2014 for his anti-racism advocacy as a result of his response.

But many also piled on Goodes, booing him at games. Then in 2015, Goodes performed an Indigenous war dance during the AFL Indigenous Round, in which he mimicked throwing a spear into the Carlton crowd. People took offence, and the conversation blew up again – even though Goodes clarified it wasn’t meant as a retaliation for being booed, but was just part of the dance and expressing his cultural pride.

All of this culminated in Goodes taking indefinite leave in 2015 and then retiring later the same year, but he has continued to fight racism in Australia – this year, he released a documentary about the events and how they affected him (it’s amazing and you should watch it). As a country we have a long way to go when it comes to how we treat and speak about Indigenous Australians, and the Adam Goodes saga this decade proved it.

7. Rosie Batty

In 2014, Rosie Batty’s son Luke was murdered by his father, Greg Anderson. Anderson had long abused both Rosie and Luke, and after many horrific incidents, the court ordered that Anderson was no longer allowed contact with his son. However, he challenged the court decision and was granted access to Luke in public, when he played sport.

On 12 February 2014, at Luke’s cricket practice, Anderson cornered his son and stabbed him to death. The absolutely horrendous incident made waves nationally, with conversation around domestic violence and the role of the court in protecting victims and potential victims.

But the conversation was primarily fuelled and continued by Rosie Batty herself – she established the Luke Batty Foundation the same year her son was murdered, and has continued to fight against domestic violence, from calling on Malcolm Turnbull to close immigration detention facilities due to high incidences of sexual assault and rape, and being a key player in the 2015 Royal Commission into Victorian family violence.

She was given the title of Australian Of The Year in 2015 for her ongoing fight against domestic violence, and was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia this year.

8. #IllRideWithYou

After the Sydney Siege, reports of abuse against Muslim Australians on public transport were rife. Online, people started up the hashtag #IllRideWithYou, indicating to anyone who felt unsafe on trains, buses and ferries that they could message someone who shared the hashtag, who would stay with them for support and/or protection if they needed it.

The SMH reports that Brisbane-based Rachael Jacobs started the hashtag, after she told a Muslim woman who removed her hijab after being abused that she should put it back on, and that Rachael would walk with her from the station. But reports vary as to who got it off the ground. Nonetheless, it was a heart-warming message in the middle of a very dangerous time for Muslim Australians, and a sign that even when wider society is being racist and cruel, there are good humans out there.

9. Dylan Alcott

Dylan Alcott
Don Arnold/WireImage

While Dylan has been a sporting hero for Australia for over a decade now, having been part of the winning 2008 Summer Paralympics basketball team – at bloody 17 years old, by the way. But this decade he blew up – returning to tennis in 2014, after ranking in the top five juniors in the world when he was 16, mind you.

He won basically everything from the years 2015 – 2019, I do not understand tennis so just know this, the guy is some athletic genius. But beyond sport, Dylan’s been instrumental in changing the way Australians think and talk about disability, whether it’s through his famous wheelchair crowd-surfing at music festivals, to launching a disability-friendly festival, to starting the Dylan Alcott Foundation as a way to support young Australians with disabilities with their self-esteem.

10. Julia Gillard

Getty Images

If you haven’t listened to the misogyny speech, you haven’t found enlightenment.

11. The Trolley Guy & The Chair Guy

When Hassan Khalif Shire Ali went on a rampage in Melbourne, fatally stabbing three people, two civilians went into action with whatever they could find – a nearby shopping trolley, and a chair. They used the common items to slow down Ali, leading to police being able to shoot Ali and stop the attack.

12. Neighbours

Network Ten

The long-running Aussie soapie went into a bit of a lull when it moved from Ten to Eleven, but in the last few years they were bloody pioneers for representation on Australian TV, from a long-running lesbian relationship, the first Australian soap gay TV wedding and the first trans character, played by trans actor Georgie Stone.

Soapies can be contentious given they use anything from natural disasters to bullying as drama for their storylines, but you’ve gotta admit we had a woeful lack of representation on Aussie TV, and Neighbours took some strong steps forward in bringing LGBT+ storylines that weren’t tokenistic to our screens.

13. Book Man

Oh, my god. The 2010s were the decade for filming people being racist/homophobic/just the fucking worst on public transport, weren’t they? But Book Man – the guy who confronted a preacher on a NSW train who was preaching anti-abortion shit. The best thing about Book Man was he then went on The Project, and eloquently explained why he was off the preacher.

It was not about his faith in particular, I teach acting at a Christian college and I love that … I work professionally with Christian people and Muslim people and Jewish people and atheist people and you know what, they’re all people and I don’t seem to have a problem with any of them. For me faith is a personal and private thing so if you wanted to sit down with me and have a coffee or a beer and discuss our beliefs, that might be fine but I don’t want it inflicted on me in public when I’m trying to read a book.


14. Tayla Harris

As soon as Tayla Harris re-tweeted the Seven Network’s now-iconic photo of her kicking a footy like the boss she is with “Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals” after being relentlessly sexualised by trolls online, a defining moment in Australian sport was born.

Tayla’s response was needed at a time when women’s sport was thankfully becoming mainstream, but sports fans were still clearly harbouring plenty of ingrained sexism. Since then, she’s continued to be vocal about respect for women in sport.

15. Jordan Rice

News.com.au / Supplied

The 2011 Queensland floods were one of the most tragic natural disasters Australia saw in the 2010s, and one of the saddest stories to emerge from the event was that of Jordan Rice.

Jordan, 13 years old, died after pushing his younger brother Blake, aged 10, towards rescuers so he could be saved first. Jordan couldn’t swim and was actually closest to the rescuers, but he wanted his brother to survive and shortly after Blake was rescued Jordan was swept away along with his mum, Donna. After the floods, his dad John fought to get Jordan the Australian Bravery Medal for his courageous act,  and after a massive change.org petition was started to award the teenager for his selfless act, he finally saw it happen.

16. Those Fruit Crackers For Cheese

Not necessarily this brand, just any of them. They snuck in sneakily in the middle of the night a few years back, and now I can’t eat blue cheeses without them. WHERE DID YOU COME FROM, YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARDS.