I have today advised Jon Stanhope, ACT Chief Minister and host of the Australian Olympic Torch Relay, that I am withdrawing from the relay.
This has been a very difficult decision that I have not taken quickly or lightly.
While I remain an enthusiastic supporter of the Olympics, as a leader within the Uniting Church in Australia and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), the decision not to run is the right one for me.
My decision not to participate reflects the changed symbolism of the Olympic Torch Relay. These issues are complex and multifaceted.
The Uniting Church and ACOSS have proud histories of standing with those who suffer violence and injustice and of working for a world in which the dignity of every person is valued and human rights are upheld.
I have made the decision not to run because my personal commitment to standing with those who are vulnerable and marginalised and the leadership positions I hold in the Uniting Church and ACOSS make it important to ensure that my actions do not leave any doubt about our commitment to human rights.
I support Australia’s continuing engagement in the Olympics and have nothing but admiration for our athletes, and athletes around the world, who have dedicated so much of their lives to reach the pinnacle of their sports. I wish them well.
Lin Hatfield Dodds
National Director, UnitingCare Australia
President, Australian Council of Social Service
ACT Australian of the Year
21 April 2008