Hawthorn racism scandal, allegations, claims, news, Gillon McLachlan, ABC interview


AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has underlined the importance of the “right representation” of Indigenous Australians at clubs and expects those calls to “get louder”.

McLachlan spoke at length with ABC News Breakfast amid the Hawthorn racism scandal.

The AFL boss had met with a host of past and present Indigenous AFL players about the Hawthorn saga via a video call a day earlier, which he admitted left him “incredibly disappointed” in the game’s grapple with racism.

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But much of the ABC interview concerned “the opportunities to be better”.

“There’s a huge impact that we’ve now got an Indigenous liaison officer at every club. But how do we make their job easier? How do we make sure the power structures or culture doesn’t diminish their voice? How do we find better places or better structures or constructs that enable people to be able to speak out if there’s issues?” McLachlan said.

“Should we have an Indigenous board member at every club? There’s six clubs now who have Indigenous board members. I think we need league-wide representation.

“So these are the conversations I’m picking up with the players and others, and they’ll be ongoing.”

Eddie Betts, Shaun Burgoyne, Steven May and Neville Jetta were among the past and present Indigenous AFL players on the video call with McLachlan.

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Burgoyne, an AFL legend of 407 games with Port Adelaide and Hawthorn, played at the Hawks when the harrowing events were alleged to have taken place.

However, the 39-year-old has revealed he was unaware of those events happening, and described the claims as “very confronting”.

“(AFL general manager of inclusion and social policy) Tanya Hosch, who works with me in this space, has been talking to clubs and strongly urging them to have (Indigenous) representation at the highest level, and I think those calls will get louder throughout this period,” McLachlan added.

“I’d like Indigenous representation at every club. I think quotas is a broader discussion. We just need to keep talking about how we get the right representation so we have strong voices at all levels of clubs.”

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