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Indigenous Programs

This year has been a big one for the Melbourne Football Club in the Indigenous space. From the first bounce, the club invested in a the new role of Indigenous Project Officer to help with the welfare and guidance of the young Indigenous men and women on our lists, to Launch the Club’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and subsequently being responsible for implementing the actions required to follow it through. The role also managed the launch of the Next Generation Academy (NGA) in Alice Springs, which is an area that is going to continue to grow and one where we believe our Club and AFL can have a massive impact on the lives of not just our Indigenous community but the broader community as well.

For the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round several of the staff that were instrumental in the creation of our RAP were given the opportunity to attend a cultural immersion experience as part of the lead up to the game in Alice Springs. This involved a tour of the local sights in Alice Springs with a local Aboriginal guide, followed by a dining experience like no other, under the stars with the back drop of the MacDonnell ranges. The tour and dinner were run and catered for by experienced chef “Bob” from RT tours Australia. The food consisted of traditional meats and bush foods with a stunning dessert, all cooked on the open fire.

 The next day the group drove to Santa Teresa to help with the Trachoma awareness day with Melbourne University eye clinic and helped deliver the message about cleaning your eyes and face regularly to help get rid of Trachoma. We then ran a footy clinic for all the young kids in the community which led to a kick to kick with the local football team. Once the kick to kick had finished we drove to an area that the locals use for camps to help troubled kids get back and reconnect to their culture, it was where we camped for the night. The experience of camping under the stars in a swag on the Red Dust around a camp fire with no distraction and nothing but nature was a life changing experience for all. Dinner was catered for by the local people of Santa Teresa and we were able to see and try food cooked traditionally, such as Kangaroo tail on open coals, which they have done for thousands of years.

For the game, the boys again had their boots painted for the Indigenous round by Nathan Patterson from Iluka Design. The boots were worn in conjunction with the Indigenous jumper designed by local artist Mandy Nicholson. For the first time ever, the Casey Demons wore the Indigenous jumpers in the VFL.

In July of this year MFC successfully launched their inaugural RAP at the Koorie Heritage Trust in federation square. In attendance for that day were some of our past indigenous players, Aaron Davey, Austin Wonaeamirri, Liam Jurrah, Shannon Motlop and myself. They were joined by our current Indigenous players – Dion Johnstone, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Aliesha Newman and Neville Jetta who spoke to the group and media about the program.  Our RAP is our way of helping to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous disadvantage through a series of actions, trainings, events and experiences. In essence, MFC aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment for any indigenous player or employee and our RAP reflects our commitment to this. (click link to view RAP)

The RAP launch was catered for by Something Wild Meats (http://www.somethingwild.com.au/) which is part owned by the Motlop Family. They put on an amazing spread of food which included  smoked crocodile, Emu and Kangaroo along with green ants and other bush foods. Our RAP booklets were printed by Deadly Designs which is an Indigenous owned and managed company.

As part of that week we launched the AFL’s first Indigenous mascot “Flash”. Such named in recognition of Aaron Davey who was  the First Indigenous player to win the Best and Fairest at Melbourne.

One of the things the current Indigenous boys mentioned they wanted to do in 2017 was wear the Indigenous jumper in Melbourne. Typically, our Indigenous round falls in Alice Springs where we are happy and proud to represent our indigenous culture and heritage, but we wanted to share this with our Melbourne family too. So as part of the RAP launch week the MFC created their own Indigenous round so the players could wear the Indigenous jumper in Melbourne in front of our faithful supporters. At the Chairman’s function, other past Indigenous players David and Donald Cockatoo-Collins, Phil Egan and Jeff Farmer and their families along with Austin Wonaeamirri and Liam Jurrah were invited to attend and help celebrate this historic week for the MFC.

The game was played and we had a live Welcome to Country performed by Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin (of XXX country) for the above-mentioned function and before the start of the game. Aunty Joy also helped us create a digital version of the welcome to country that we now play at all home games. Additionally, a live Welcome to Country is now delivered at our AGM and Best and Fairest count as part of our commitment to our RAP. In all internal meetings and events, a senior member of the club delivers and acknowledgement to country.

As you can see there has been a lot of work started in the indigenous space this year and it has been a sense of pride and enjoyment for the club as a whole. We have more exciting and innovative ideas for 2018 we look forward to sharing with you. It is important to remember though that conciliation is a journey and one to be constantly worked on. As such, Melbourne acknowledges this and is committed to impacting positively, consistently and frequently on this….for this our journey is only just beginning.

 

 

 

Reconciliation Action Plan

The Melbourne Football Club is proud to make a commitment to fully support reconciliation, now and into the future.

We will continue to gather an understanding of, and embrace, reconciliation within our organisation and community, with the aim to truly value and embrace the histories and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within our club.

RELATIONSHIPS

There is a strong connection with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the AFL and the wider AFL community. By nurturing these relationships, we believe we can have a positive influence on the outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as broader community views on issues such as reconciliation, awareness and respect. Through our presence in the Northern Territory, playing AFL games in Darwin and Alice Springs, we have developed several strong relationships with NT communities and NT government. The club has undertaken community work in trachoma awareness. Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that can lead to blindness. As it is easily treated with antibiotics, trachoma is regarded as a disease of poverty and is now unknown in developed countries—except Australia.

RESPECT

Through this RAP, we aim to create a welcoming, inclusive and nurturing environment that is socially, culturally and spiritually safe and accessible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now and into the future. This can’t be achieved without building respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples among internal and external stakeholders. We have created a Welcome to Country video that will be played before each home game, developed in consultation with the Wurundjeri elders, as well as displaying an Acknowledgement of Country plaque in our offices showing respect and acknowledging Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.

OPPORTUNITIES

It is important for us as an organisation to reflect the diversity and opportunity of Melbourne as a city within our workforce. To experience and achieve the value this offers, to gain access to Indigenous employees from a wide background and skill set, to support our greater community. In line with our aim to reflect strength within diversity, we will recruit, endorse, mentor and train local Indigenous candidates for all roles within the Club.

Please click here to view our Reconciliation Action Plan 

Neville Jetta Squad

This squad is for anyone turning 15, 16 or 17 in 2017 that has either been born overseas or is of Indigenous heritage.

The Neville Jetta Squad gives multicultural boys aged between 15-17 years old that have never played Australian Football an entry point to the elite talent pathway. The program is also designed for Indigenous and Multicultural boys trying to get onto a TAC Cup list. This is a 10 week program designed to fast track the participant’s football development, to develop their football skills to play Australian Football and provide great education at the same time.  The education sessions consist of a Reach Foundation talk that deliver youth empowerment workshops, AFL player mentoring, Nutritional talks from AFL dietitians, Leadership sessions and many more.

The program will conclude with matches against other TAC Cup diversity squads. At the conclusion of the program participants may be offered a spot on the main list of the Dandenong Southern Stingrays Under 15’s, Under 16’s or  Under 18’s TAC Cup Squad. In 2016 the TAC Cup competition provided 55% of the young men that were drafted into AFL clubs. The Neville Jetta Squad is giving the participants in our Diversity squad a genuine pathway and opportunity to be drafted into the AFL.