Ian Darling AO, BA ‘85

20 Mar 2020

Alumnus of the Year

Ian Darling has been awarded the 2020 ANU Alumnus of the Year Award for creating positive social impact and advocating for a more inclusive society through his work.

Ian is an award-winning documentary film maker, who studied a Bachelor of Arts at ANU. His production company, Shark Island Institute creates extensive outreach, education and community engagement campaigns with their films.

The most recent example is The Final Quarter which tells the story of the last three years of the career of AFL star and 2014 Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. Ian, who was in the arena when Goodes was being booed, felt his abuse by football fans was too disturbing to fade into history without proper scrutiny.

"There was something so wrong about that, I felt there was a need to somehow tell the real story, tell the truth," said Ian.

The result has been described as one of Australia's most important documentaries, a mirror to the nation revealing the full weight of the racism Goodes endured. More than one million Australians have watched the film, sparking a constructive nationwide conversation about racism towards First Nations people.

Ian was an active member of Burgmann College during his three years at ANU, which he credits with helping foster his spirit of enquiry when he is looking at a story that needs to be told.

Among his other award-winning films is The Oasis, a documentary about Australia's homeless youth, which sparked a national inquiry into youth homelessness.

"What is so powerful about documentaries is you are telling real stories and you can take people into worlds that otherwise they may not have had exposure to."

To make a positive impact, Ian believes we must start at the grassroots level where we can be accountable.

"Don't try to save the world, try to save your local community first. Think small, not big, and your impact will be so much greater and more meaningful, and it will grow."

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