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Melbourne Football Club

Jeffy’s aunty creates Indigenous jumper

Indigenous Guernsey Reveal Melbourne launch their Indigenous Guernsey on the MCG
I knew my aunty was doing designs, so I asked her if she wanted to do it and she was very happy to get on board, so that’s how it came about … she’s done an amazing job
Jeff Garlett

WHEN Indigenous project officer, and former tough-nut defender, Matthew Whelan asked around at Melbourne, if anyone knew any designers to come up with this year’s Indigenous jumper, Jeff Garlett quickly came up with a name.

The goalkicking Demon nominated his aunty and artist, Cindy Prior.

And the rest went from there.

“I knew my aunty was doing designs, so I asked her if she wanted to do it and she was very happy to get on board, so that’s how it came about … she’s done an amazing job,” Garlett told Melbourne Media.

“It definitely does mean a lot to have family representing us and to do the design for us [at Melbourne] – it’s a huge honour,” he said.

“It’s an amazing design and to get it done for us is a huge honour.”

Prior – who usually creates her art on glass, but has recently started on canvas – said it was a great opportunity to design this year’s Indigenous jumper for Melbourne.

She said it “took a couple of months” to think about her design and “a couple of weeks” to sit down and create the artwork on paper.

But she said it would be a proud moment when she sees the players run out in it against the Adelaide Crows at TIO Traeger Park in round 10.

“The boys asked me to do the artwork and they had a theme, and it was men and women in the AFL,” she said.

“I thought about our communities – non-Indigenous and Indigenous – and how men and women work together, and how we share our knowledges together and how the Elders are very important in that.

“The Elders surround the football in the artwork, and they’re the ones who are the keepers of the knowledge, and sharers of the knowledges. The meeting places around the football, in the artwork, are the training fields, as well as the meeting places.

“The two footprints that go into the middle of the football are the men and women – and they meet up in the middle.”

Much-admired Demon, and Indigenous leader, Neville Jetta said he was delighted with this year’s jumper.

“It’s come up really well. The artwork id done by Jeffy’s aunty, on his Dad’s side, and she’s a Nyungar woman as well, like me and Jeffy, who are from the Noongar nation as well,” he said.

“We’re really proud of what we’ve been able to put on the jumper and we’ll be very proud when we go out and wear it, when we play the Adelaide Crows up in Alice Springs.

The defender said he wanted this year’s jumper to represent the Noongar background.

“We wanted to be able to educate people a bit more culturally, which we’ll do throughout the years, from where we come from,” Jetta said.

“We [wanted people] to understand and let them get a bit of a background from us.

“It’s a very proud moment. It not only represents me and Jeffy, but our families, so they’ll be very proud as well to be able to see the jumper running around.”

Speedster Aliesha Newman – who has already worn the jumper, when Melbourne played Collingwood in Alice Springs in February – said it was an honour to wear the Indigenous jumper for the club’s AFLW team.  

“I absolutely love this jumper and I loved playing in Alice Springs with it. It was a great occasion,” he said.

“The front of the jumper is like a fingerprint, which stamps our identity … and that every individual player is unique. We all come from different pathways and we all come together for one reason and that’s to play footy.”

Aliesha Newman models the AFLW Indigenous Guernsey alongside Dion Johnstone, Nev Jetta, Jeff Garlett and Jay Kennedy-Harris in the AFL version (Photo: Matthew Goodrope)

New Balance Australia country manager, Justin Box, said his company was delighted to be involved in the jumper.

“At New Balance, we’ve been a sponsor now for eight years with the Melbourne footy club, and we’re really proud of this Indigenous guernsey we get to make each year,” he said.

“It’s a great jumper.”

Yet-to-debut youngster Dion Johnstone said he would love to play his first AFL match in the jumper.

“The jumper’s come up really well. The design and the story behind it – Cindy’s done a terrific job and I think the boys are very pleased with it,” he said.

For Jetta, who represented Australia against Ireland in the 2017 International Rules Series, he was touched to see Indigenous Round evolve each year.

“To have the support from the club, and to be able to do this stuff is what makes it happen … to be able to culturally educate people within our footy club, and our supporters as well – is something we’re very proud of,” he said.

“It’s very spiritual to play in Alice Springs … and to see the faces of the Indigenous people who come out to watch us – there is no better feeling than running out and see people who genuinely love the game, and you can see the passion in their eyes.

“I’m looking forward to seeing their (Adelaide) jumper and seeing the likes of Eddie [Betts] and their Indigenous players run out proud as well.”

Garlett added that it would be unbelievable if Melbourne’s four Indigenous players could all wear the jumper in the same game.  

“We’ve all got to tick our boxes to get there, but it’d be amazing if we can achieve that,” he said.

Artwork story

Wabinnyiny moodooniny koondarm mart ngatji derapin moorditj maaman, yorgas, ngoonies, djookins,coolangers. Running, dreaming together, we are proud of our deadly men, women, brothers, sisters and children.

This artwork depicts our men, women and children playing, participating and dreaming together. The football represents the AFL and the communities in which we live, work and play together. The four corners surrounding the football, shows our Elders, men and women, who play a vital role in guiding us through the sharing of each of our knowledges, cultures, languages, country and dreaming. Meeting places around the football represent the training and playing fields, and learning circles where we share knowledges with each other. As our men and women walk together to the centre of the oval, we do so with pride, representing all in this great game.  


Cindy Ilaran Prior is a Ballardong/Whadjuk, Nyungar, who lives and works on Nyungar country. Throughout her life, she has been immersed in country, culture and stories. These three components form the foundation and inspiration of her artworks. She is inspired by the stories from her Elders and the colours of country, which are reimagined through her artworks.