A BALLARAT indigenous art group has slammed the AFL for an “offensive” contract they claim has taken Aboriginal relations with the sport “back 200 years”.
The Pitcha Makin’ Fellas have declined to sign a contract with the AFL after months of designing the Western Bulldogs guernsey for this weekend’s indigenous round.
The men are seeking to rectify the guernsey contract, which they said signed away their moral, legal and creative rights and didn’t offer financial compensation.
Artist Peter-Shane Rotumah said the group, receiving the contract only days before the event, felt “steamrolled”.
“If the AFL had have given us the contract at the start and told us what was going on, we wouldn’t have gone along with it,” he said.
“It felt like we went back 200 years when they (European settlers) came in and took our land and our culture from us.”
The men have designed a guernsey depicting a figure they call the “great black pointer”, a play on the great white pointer.
The figure has a political message and speaks of “pointing out” injustice, following the Adam Goodes racism scandal. The figure is also a reference to elders pointing “the way to go”, or leading younger Indigenous people.
Group manager Peter Widmer described the AFL’s contract as “incredibly careless” and “unforgiveable”.
“The AFL sent through a document that wanted the Fellas to sign away all copyright, all moral rights, so the design could be used in any way by them. These designs are not like a set of steak knives or a tea towel, they actually tell stories about people and place and culture,” he said.
He said the artists wanted the issue resolved “amicably” before Saturday’s AFL indigenous round, when the players were scheduled to stride out on the field dressed in the Pitch Makin’ Fellas’ jumper.
“The Fellas want to get rid of this nonsense and resolve it amicably and make sure documents like that don’t get circulated anymore.”
He reinforced the Fellas had no problem with the Western Bulldogs, with whom they enjoyed a good relationship.
An AFL spokesperson said there had been “certainly no intention to upset the artists at all”.
“The relationship is between the club and the artists, and the AFL’s role is simply to seek written permission to use the artwork and have the jumpers printed by one of our licensees,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s the individual clubs who enter into agreements with the artists, and the clubs who negotiate financial and non-financial recompense with the artists.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.