Newly appointed Australian Republic Movement (ARM) Chair' Craig Foster is ready to tackle 2023 head-on.
The former Socceroo turned sports commentator' human rights activist and CQUniversity Law alumnus said this year would be one of much work' as Australia prepares for a possible referendum.
"I'm very excited about the next 18 months to two years in the run-up to hopefully what is a referendum on Australia becoming a republic and having our own head of state'" Foster said.
"Being appointed Chair of the Australian Republic Movement gives me an opportunity to make a contribution to what is a really important issue in contemporary Australia' and perhaps more importantly' to help shape what a 'future Australia' looks like'" he said.
"Reform has been needed for a very long time and that is in relation to the opportunity that every Australian should have the ability to rise to the highest offices in the land."
Foster said he planned to hit the ground running in his role as ARM Chair.
"The National Committee will formulate and agree on the community engagement plan and what that looks like in engaging with all of our communities' to getting in front of Australians and having this really important conversation' consulting with everyone and to build consensus with enough Australians to make sure that a referendum is on the table – that's the main priority' to build that consensus around the model and to build the support for the referendum'" he said.
"The first quarter of the year will be when we really start to bring all of those plans to life."
In addition to his role as ARM Chair' Foster is a passionate human rights activist and spoke to CQU during the 2022 World Cup.
"I'm broadcasting the World Cup from Australia' from our Sydney offices with SBS' and the reason that I'm doing that is because I refuse to go to Qatar'" he explained.
"I didn't want to participate on the ground in the World Cup and put my energy or my money into the Qatarie economy' given the human rights abuses that have occurred around the World Cup' so I decided to broadcast from Australia and to donate my fee for the month to the families of the 6'500 deceased migrant workers' the LGBTI community and women's rights groups in Qatar.
"This is a very rare opportunity to have a discussion about the intersection between sport and human rights which in my view are basically one and the same."
Foster said he would be turning his mind to a number of projects in 2023.
"The most important of which is speaking with the Australian people' travelling around the country holding meetings with community members of all backgrounds' persuasions and opinions' and engaging Australia on this really important project to take us forward as a country."
Foster completed a law degree with CQU and said his knowledge acquired through the course had been critical in attaining roles such as Chair of the ARM.
"I knew that having a legal background would give me an opportunity to fight for just causes and had I not been an athlete' I think I would have quite liked to go to the bar and act as a human rights barrister however' life turned out very differently – nevertheless the legal degree is incredibly valuable because it does provide me with the tools for social change' to understand the political frameworks within which change is manifested and a level of logic and reasoning that if not attention to detail' that is so valuable when one is seeking to engage in any form of social or political change."
Foster said he was looking forward to the years ahead and helping shape what Australia might look like in the future.
"The research is very clear that the overwhelming number of Australians are open to becoming a head of state and for Australia to become a republic' finally'" Foster said.
"The support is building again in 2023 with a number of reasons why the proposition is growing in strength around Australia'" he explained.
"One is because of the recent transition of the Monarchy and' because the former Monarch' the Queen' had a very long relationship with Australia and past generations of Australians – my mother for example – who kind of grew up with Queen Elizabeth' saw her as a part of Australian life.
"Younger generations' perhaps probably starting with mine' and certainly younger generations now in Australia are very different. They have no attachment whatsoever to the Monarchy and they are very clear and fiercely protective of the social principles of equality' fairness' justice and egalitarianism.
"And so as such' the Republic Movement has grown in strength tremendously in recent decades and has reached a position where now the Albanese Government is interested in putting the question to Australians in the next Parliamentary term as to wherever now is the time for us to stand alone' together arm-in-arm' and also on the international stage' and to bring our social principles to life through one of the final residual and anachronistic parts of our constitution which is now 121 years old.
"It's an inspiring time of change in Australian life."