Graham “Polly” Farmer was a transformational figure whose influence transcended sport.
After growing up at Perth’s Sister Kate’s Home for Aboriginal children Polly went to East Perth Football Club and became a young Western Australian football champion before being recruited to Geelong in 1962.
At Geelong he perfected a style of football with handball and ruckwork and changed the way the game was played in the heartland of football.
Across the WAFL and VFL, he won 3 Sandover Medals, 10 Best and Fairests, 4 Simpson Medals and 6 Premierships.
He was named ruckman in the AFL’s Team of the Century, captain of the Indigenous Team of the Century and an inaugural Legend in the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Apart from his legendary sporting prowess, Graham Farmer was committed to the belief that all Aboriginal children should be able to reach their birthright potential and established the Graham “Polly” Farmer Foundation to help young Aboriginal people follow their dreams.
The Foundation has helped transform the lives of thousands of young Aboriginal people, from throughout Australia, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, to achieve personal and educational development that may not have happened without Polly’s Foundation and legacy.
Finally, he holds the very rare honour of having a Western Australian freeway named after him.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“Today, WA has lost an icon.
“Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer was one of the greatest to ever play footy.
“From tough beginnings in a Perth orphanage, Graham Farmer ascended to the very top of Australian sport and became an undisputed legend.
“On behalf of the State Government I pay tribute to the great Graham “Polly” Farmer and extend sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.”
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer was a role model to many and an inspiration to all.
“While his footballing career was without peer, his efforts off the field to improve the lives of so many Aboriginal young people means that he will always be remembered as a great Western Australian.”
As stated by Minister for Sport and Recreation Mick Murray
“Polly Farmer was a remarkable footballer and Western Australian – with his style of play contributing immensely to the modern game and his story providing inspiration to thousands of young indigenous sportspeople.
“Polly was a personal inspiration to me in my forays into football coaching – particularly the fine example he set about the importance of supreme fitness on the field. We have lost a great Western Australian.”