To be attributed to the Indigenous Advisory Board:
We are writing this on behalf of our Indigenous brothers and sisters within the AFL and AFLW competitions.
On Friday, a documentary called The Final Quarter will be released, which re-visits the treatment of Sydney Swans champion Adam Goodes by some Australians in the final years of his brilliant football career. This is the first of at least two documentaries being released on Adam Goodes over the coming months. The second documentary, The Australian Dream, will be released in cinemas around Australia in August.
We were fortunate to see this film during the Indigenous Summit in February and it had a profound impact on those players who saw it.
Many of us walked away from that screening with feelings of anger, shame and guilt but also a strong sense of pride and hope.
We were angry with how Adam, one of the greatest to play the game, was faced with clear racial discrimination from members of the public during this time.
We are ashamed with how the game didn’t provide enough support to Adam during the most challenging time of his life.
We feel guilty that we, as his brothers, didn’t do more to protect him.
We are proud that he stood up for what is right.
We are hopeful that this moment will be remembered as a turning point for Indigenous people.
This was a traumatic time for Adam and was felt by all Indigenous people. However, it would’ve been a great shame had society moved on and forgotten the detail of what unfolded. It’s important that we all learn from the experience to ensure it does not happen again.
We want to congratulate film director Ian Darling, for The Final Quarter, and Stan Grant, writer of The Australian Dream, for giving people an opportunity to relive the facts and reconsider how they reacted and reflect on how things could have been different.
These documentaries present an enormous opportunity for All Australians to reflect and learn from what happened so that something like this never happens to anyone in this country ever again.
We want The Final Quarter to be seen by school kids across the country and we urge all Australians to commit to watching it. We strongly believe education is the key to behavioural change.
It is a time for us to all be open, not to be fearful, or defensive, and look to shift blame or promote hate. We want it to start a conversation about what we can ALL do to promote reconciliation.
For us, as Indigenous players, reliving Adam’s experiences has given us the courage to confront racism head first. We will continue to call out examples of racism in order to keep educating people about the enormous impact that it has on our community.
To finish, we would like to pay tribute to Adam Goodes, who for many of us is a hero, friend or teammate and for all of us is a respected champion of the game. Thank you for standing up for us and we hope that one day you can look back on this time in your life with pride knowing the impact that it had on Indigenous people.
For us, your leadership on this issue already sits alongside your premierships and Brownlow Medals as part of your amazing legacy and we know that you’ve got many more great things to achieve in your life.
Note: The Indigenous Advisory Board includes current players Shaun Burgoyne, Neville Jetta, Chad Wingard, Allen Christensen, Jarrod Pickett and Shane Edwards.
Statement to be attributed to AFLPA President Patrick Dangerfield:
We, as players, feel incredibly sad for what Goodesy went through.
What we can do is commit to doing whatever we can to ensure this moment is remembered as a catalyst for change.
We implore all footy fans to watch the documentary and let it serve as a timely reminder of the devastation that racism inflicts.
Despite all Goodesy went through, and situations that have continued to arise this year towards other members of our playing group, racism still sadly exists in the football community.
We hope that the public’s reaction to these films remind Goodesy how many people love and respect him and that one day he’ll deem the game worthy of his love once again.