John Moriarty

Founder & Co-Chair


John Moriarty AM belongs to the Yanyuwa people of his birthplace, Borroloola NT. He is Co-Founder and Chair of Moriarty Foundation and Balarinji.

He is the recipient of the Order of Australia (AM), the St Peters Citizenship Award, and the Advance Australia Award for Service to Industry and Commerce. John's Board appointments have included Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council and Deputy Chair of Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).

John was the first Aboriginal player to be selected to represent Australia in soccer and he is an inductee in the Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame.

Born at remote Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory, John was taken from his mother at the age of four and placed in a number of boys' homes in Sydney and Adelaide, under the then Government's assimilation policy. Children who were removed like John became known as the Stolen Generations.

At 15 years of age, John was reunited with his mother in Alice Springs and was reconnected with his birthplace of Borroloola and his family. John is a full member of the Yanyuwa people of Borroloola and belongs ceremonially to the Rainbow Snake and Kangaroo Dreamings.

St Francis House, Adelaide, where John lived between the ages of 11 and 16 was next to a football (soccer) ground. It was there that John discovered the sport which would shape his future. John’s exceptional talent, skill and speed resulted in him being the first Aboriginal player to be selected to represent Australia.

John has had a lifelong commitment to advocacy for Aboriginal equality, reconciliation and cultural engagement. He formerly held executive positions in Federal and State Departments of Aboriginal Affairs.

John is an inductee of the Australian Design Hall of Fame, Australian Graphic Design Association Hall of Fame, and the Football Federation of Australia Hall of Fame. He is a Churchill Fellow, a Convocation Medalist of the University of South Australia, and an Honorary Doctor of both University of South Australia and Flinders University, SA. In 2018 John was named by Charles Darwin University as a Companion of the University. John's autobiography, Saltwater Fella, (Penguin 2000) was Highly Commended in the Australian Human Rights Commission Literary Awards. John has long held a vision to see a higher number of Aboriginal football players follow in his footsteps. Equally, he hopes football will be a game-changer for young Indigenous players everywhere to lead healthier lives, as it was for him.