ABORIGINAL elder Ted Lovett has spoken of racist taunts that continue to plague football in Ballarat and says the issue has never been worse.
Mr Lovett, who was involved in a racially motivated incident at a Ballarat Football League match last year, says racism has never been more prevalent in Ballarat.
The Aboriginal elder was racially abused at the Eastern Oval during a finals game between Melton South and North Ballarat City last year, which has resulted in two Panthers supporters being banned from attending the first eight BFL matches of the season.
Mr Lovett says the abuse he was subject to that day was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of racial taunts.
He said a lot of people still held a direct prejudice towards Aborigines.
“It (racism) is going to be here forever, it is not showing signs of going anywhere,” Mr Lovett said.
“I don’t care who you are, everybody has the right to be free of racism, but it doesn’t happen.”
The incident occurred at the Eastern Oval during last year's finals series
Karen Heap, chief executive officer of the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative, agreed that racism was alive as much as ever.
“We have the same blood, it might be a different type of blood, but it still makes our heart keep going,” she said.
“It’s very disappointing that it still pops up. It shouldn’t be happening.”
Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council chair Frank Williams said although Ballarat was slightly conservative at times, it was generally very open to different races.
“Ballarat’s very much a welcoming city, we constantly celebrate cultural diversity,” he said.
However, for Mr Lovett, the story is quite different.
The 70-year-old played VFL football for Fitzroy in the 1960s and said he was subject to a tidal wave of abuse in that era.
Nowadays he is a regular spectator at local football matches at both senior and junior level and says some of the comments he hears from the crowd make him feel sick.
He said it happened not only in the sporting arena, but in society as a whole.
“You’ve got to live in a black skin to understand how it feels,” said Mr Lovett.
“The people who say these things think they own you but as soon as you question them, they say ‘I didn’t mean it’.
“Everybody has the right not to be abused.”
Panthers club member Graham Pearce will appeal his eight-match ban for racial abuse tomorrow. Kevin Parker, also banned for eight matches, will not be appealing.