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Alastair Clarkson

Despite the fact that the AFL has appointed an independent panel to investigate the racism allegation against Hawthorn, the indigenous families involved are still wary of participating in the investigations. Some of the families involved wrote an open letter to the AFL, requesting the league admit its failings in dealing with the issue of racism. The allegations focus on a period between 2008 and 2016. The letter continued, "We have decided to participate in the AFL Independent Investigation on the basis that the AFL is also committed to independently look at its own failings, and promises to all First Nations families it will do better as a result ... the issue of racism in the AFL cannot be dealt with by a narrowly targeted investigation on a club-by-club, or crisis-by-crisis, basis. We want the AFL to take a good hard look at itself and how it has dealt with racism in the past. Not because we want to trawl over 100 years of neglect, or conduct a witch-hunt or to bring legal claims, but because we want the AFL to be a safer place for our children."

One woman at the center of the claims said the AFL's proposed investigation was not culturally safe  The letter said in part that the families wanted to " ... tell our truths in a "culturally safe environment". According to the group, the AFL should take a "good look" at how it has handled racism previously. The woman, only referred to as Amy (to hide her real identity), released a statement through her attorneys saying she would not participate in the investigations but did say that she was the victim of "appalling mistreatment" by Hawthorn.

Hawthorn president-elect Peter Nankivell, due to replace Jeff Kennett in December, said he found the allegation horrifying. but is hoping mediation will help resolve the issues. A first attempt was unsuccessful. A mediation discussion was conducted with one lawyer representing a player and partner, but other players and their partners refused to participate. Nankivell also believes thar financial settlements might be a possibility. He said, in an interview on SEN Radio, “I think it‘s the nature of a dispute in the sense that what happens is that the complainants present and tell their story and their hurt and explain their hurt. We and those that have had allegations made against them get the chance to respond ... there’ll be no winners here. Everyone is going to walk away disappointed, hurting. We have to take whatever steps we can to try to minimize that hurt. I think true reconciliation can only occur if that’s (mediation) the outcome.”

In another interview, he said he was aware that the club could be sanctioned depending on the outcome, " ... this in essence is an independent panel, but it’s a subset of an AFL disciplinary process, ... if there is fault and or policies have been breached and there are sanctions, we are acutely aware of that. I think the board is charged with being responsible for the good governance and conduct of the football club ... and if there are legacy issues or historical issues where we have been at fault then we are responsible.”

Even though the investigations are in the early stages, Alastair Clarkson (newly appointed coach for North Melbourne) and Chris Fagan (Brisbane) have returned to their new clubs.


Article last changed on Sunday, June 04, 2023 - 7:38 PM EDT


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