Before the season started, Shane Edwards made a decision.
With Dreamtime being a match that he regularly marks down on the calendar before the year starts, he wanted to do something significant.
It didn’t take long for inspiration to be apparent, with 2017 marking a large moment in Australian history.
“The 1967 Referendum was a vote to include Indigenous people into the population of Australia,” Edwards told Aflplayers.com.au.
“Before the vote was passed, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were plants and animals, they weren’t people. Since that vote happened, things have slowly progressed and it was not just a huge moment in Indigenous history, but Australian history.”
The Federal Referendum was a landmark moment that brought Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians together, with 90.77 percent of Australians coming together to include Indigenous people in census figures. Some 50 years later, it’s important to recognise it.
With that in mind, Edwards and the club began to consider the best way to commemorate such an event to put it in the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“Before the season started, Aaron Clark who is the new director of the Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI), came to me and spoke about how it’s the 50-year anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and what we can do for Dreamtime this year,” Edwards explained.
“He said, ‘Why don’t you wear the number 67?’ I was pretty blown away just at the thought of changing numbers.”
The Sir Doug Nicholls Round and Dreamtime at the ‘G has grown in size each year, and is a platform for Indigenous AFL players to not only showcase their talent, but their heritage.
“There’s a lot of Indigenous leaders in the competition, and a lot of them will be wearing either the number 50 or 67, that makes people asked the question, ‘Why is he wearing 50? Why is he wearing 67?’ You’ll have to find out the answers and learn more about Indigenous history and that’s what Dreamtime is all about.”
It’s not only Edwards, with the likes of Shaun Burgoyne, Lance Franklin, Tom Lynch, Dayne Beams and many others coming together over the course of the weekend to change their numbers.