AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has stressed the importance of the “good representation” of Indigenous Australians at clubs and expects those calls to “get louder”.
McLachlan spoke at length with ABC News Breakfast amid the Hawthorn racism scandal.
The AFL boss had met with a host of past and present Indigenous AFL players to address the Hawthorn saga via video call a day earlier, which he admitted had left him “incredibly disappointed” with the game’s fight against racism.
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But much of the ABC interview was about “opportunities to be better.”
“The fact that we now have an Indigenous Liaison Officer in every club has a huge impact. But how do we facilitate their work? How do we ensure that power structures or culture do not diminish their voice? How do we find- us better places or better structures or buildings that allow people to speak up if there are issues?” McLachlan said.
“Should we have an Aboriginal board member in every club? There are now six clubs that have Aboriginal board members. I think we need league-wide representation.
“So those are the conversations that I’m picking up with the players and others, and they will continue.”
Eddie Betts, Shaun Burgoyne, Steven May and Neville Jetta were among the AFL’s past and present Indigenous players during the video call with McLachlan.
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Burgoyne, a 407-game AFL legend with Port Adelaide and Hawthorn, played for the Hawks when the heartbreaking events allegedly took place.
However, the 39-year-old revealed he was unaware of these events and called the claims “very confronting”.
“(AFL Chief Inclusion and Social Policy) Tanya Hosch, who works with me in this space, has spoken to clubs and strongly urged them to have (indigenous) representation at the highest level, and I think these calls will become stronger. throughout that time,” McLachlan added.
“I would like indigenous representation in every club. I think quotas are a bigger discussion. We just need to keep talking about how we get the right representation so that we have strong voices at all levels of the clubs. .”
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