AFL Goldfields has stepped up its proactive stance against racism to ensure all leagues it administers promote inclusiveness.
The regional football and netball body is forming an indigenous and multicultural steering committee with key community leaders to develop and review strategies for inclusion at all member clubs.
AFL Goldfields media manager Shaun Kelly said the committee was to build on successful and long-standing respect and responsibility and racial, religious and sexual orientation policies, launched in the Ballarat Football League, rather than being a knee-jerk reaction to any incident or underlying issues.
“We’re just taking it to the next level,” Kelly said.
“We’re in the process of forming a committee...(AFL Goldfields general manager) Rod Ward is working hard on getting it right.
“We want the structures there for the committee to work effectively from the start.”
AFL Goldfields unveiled its plans for the committee leading into the AFL indigenous round.
Ballarat and Mary-
borough Castlemaine football netball leagues will mark an indigenous and multicultural round this week, coinciding with the AFL for the first time.
Each league has combined its indigenous and multicultural theme rounds in what Kelly said was to strengthen the all-inclusive message and encourage people of all backgrounds to feel comfortable joining in sport.
Australian of the Year Adam Goodes, speaking at the AFL’s indigenous round launch on Tuesday, said he expected incidents of racism to “get worse before things get better” because people were comfortable speaking out against racism, meaning more cases will be reported.
The Sydney Swan, who was drafted from North Ballarat Rebels, was the target of two high-profile incidents of racism – the latest during the Swans’ match against Essendon a fortnight ago.
“Ever since the Essendon game, the amount of phone calls I’m getting from people in junior football leagues asking for support on ‘How do we deal with this issue at our local football club, this is what happened on the weekend’,” Goodes said.
“That to me means that more people are standing up and saying ‘This is unacceptable’, which is what we want to start to do.
“That’s how we’re going to make change.”
Initiatives for the BFL and MCDFL round this week include the indigenous flag colours painted in the centre circle for all senior football game venues, an indigenous player, or player with a multicultural background, to toss the coin and goal umpires to wave orange flags, the international colour of harmony.
Central Highlands Football League club Rokewood-Corindhap footballers and netballers will wear a specially designed indigenous jumper for a clash against Smythesdale on Saturday.
Goodes and the Swans will also sport an indigenous jumper for the first time this season, designed by Goodes’ mother Lisa Sansbury, who also hand-paints the Rebels best and fairest trophy each year.