Australia Day 2016 held a special signifcance for John Chalk AM, who was awarded Australia Day honours after a highly-decorated career.
Chalk received life membership with the NSWRL last year after over 50 years of service in Rugby League.
But, apart from a rich sporting history, Chalk has dedicated himself to giving back to society through several charity organisations such as Guardian Youth Care and Guardian Foundation.
“(Receiving Australia Day honours) took me by surprise obviously," Chalk said.
“My instant reaction was – and I got scolded by my wife for it – I said you don’t need a medal on your lapel to be a person who cares about society. There’s a lot of great people out there from the ambulances, nurses, police, and firemen. There are all these people who contribute and you feel a bit humbled by it all.”
Chalk has been involved with Balmain since 1955 when he was a ball boy, and in 1997 was named Chairman of the Balmain Tigers that oversaw the joint merger of Wests Tigers.
In 2001, he joined the ARL board and was nominated as NSWRL President in 2013, serving 55 consecutive seasons as a player and administrator in rugby league clubs and associations affiliated with the NSWRL.
Receiving Australia Day honours is a thorughly-deserved honour for Chalk's committment and dedication in a long career. However, it's not something he belives entitles special recognition or condiseration.
“In a way it’s a thank you for what you do but like I said you don’t do it for that reason, you do it because you believe in it. That’s the main objective for everybody. It’s a great honour.
“I’ve got a favourite saying: “old people have memories, young people have dreams.” I hope I can keep dreaming how good it can be. My encouragement to young people to achieve is what I get the most joy out of. My work with the Indigenous people, I get great joy out of seeing people succeed.
"We’re all part of Australia – to me it doesn’t matter what colour you are, what religion you are or whoever your God is, may they bless you. For some unknown reason I see through all that and it doesn’t worry me. I regard everyone as equal.”