During the past year, the AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board launched its best practice guidelines for supporting Indigenous footballers.
The document titled Many Stories, One Goal, was developed by the nine-member Indigenous Advisory Board and built from the stories and experiences of every Indigenous player in the game and key stake holders within the industry.
The policy is built around four key pillars; Induction, Professional Development, Personal Support and Our Culture – areas identified as vital to developing an environment that best supports Indigenous footballers throughout every stage of their playing career and beyond.
The inspiration for the guidelines came from the AFL Players’ Indigenous Camp held in Alice Springs in 2013 and a want to achieve consistency in conditions across the competition for Indigenous players. AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis said he was proud of the Advisory Board’s initiative to develop this concept and drive its implementation.
“Today recognises that the voices of Indigenous players are being heard,” he said.
Finnis went on to say the industry needs to continue to improve the working conditions of all of its players.
“The game can always do more, I think as the game becomes more professional and the standards are raised, the support we provide for our players needs to improve commensurably. And I think that’s what these guidelines are providing to footy clubs, so their personal can provide support to players to make the most of their careers.”
Indigenous Advisory Board member Shaun Burgoyne said the purpose of the document is to ensure consistency across all AFL clubs for Indigenous players.
“They are just guidelines to provide a resource for clubs to refer to if they hit a speed bump,” he said.
“All clubs do things well…this will help clubs get the best out of its players.”
AFL Players’ Association President Luke Ball said the development of the policy was further reassurance the future of the game was in good hands.
Ball cited the enjoyment he has gained from close relationships with former teammate Xavier Clarke and current teammate Andrew Krakouer as reasons why a strong Indigenous presence in the AFL is important.
“Our job as non-Indigenous players is to throw our support behind it.”
The AFL Players’ Association Indigenous Advisory Board is comprised of Adam Goodes (chairman), Mathew Stokes, Chad Wingard, Brett Goodes, Patrick Ryder, Lance Franklin, Michael Johnson, Jarrod Harbrow and Shaun Burgoyne.
In 2013, there were 79 Indigenous players on AFL lists.