Melbourne launched its Reconciliation Action Plan at the Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square on Wednesday 19 July, 2017.
The RAP is a business plan that documents what an organisation commits to and will contribute to reconciliation in Australia.
It is an actionable, living document and together with Reconciliation Australia this is reviewed and reported on annually.
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, a senior Wurundjeri elder of the Kulin nation; 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.
RAP ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE
- Introduced Cultural Protocol Guidelines
- Introduced Ceremonial Leave for Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People
- MOU between MFC & Redtails (Central Australia Football Program) formed 2017
- Cultural Immersion Program launched (3 programs run so far)
- “Flash” Mascot launched, which was the 1st Mascot to be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent
- Indigenous jumpers worn (across all 3 teams – AFL, AFLW, VFL)
- Boots painted and designed by local Aboriginal for Indigenous round
- Held initial NRW Event
- Full Time Indigenous Projects Officer in place
- Part time Diversity Manager assisting IPO in place
- Owned the heart of the Nation game in Alice Springs with national exposure on Ch. 7. Included all Aboriginal pre game, celebrations of Culture and shows of reconciliation across the week.
- Macleod/Davey challenge run in Darwin
- Inaugural AFLW participation in cultural programs and community work in NT
- Melbourne song sung in local language for Alice Game
- All teams (male and female VFL, AFL) played in Alice
- Yarra Park culture walk with local elder
- Cultural Choice engaged as Club primary stationary supplier
RAP 2019 GOALS
- RAP Innovate actions almost completed
- Planning for RAP Stretch mid 2019
- Dedicated time spent on more ongoing and regular awareness to staff and community of acts of reconciliation and education, over all 52 weeks of the year. Not just NAIDOC and NRW
- Cultural Immersion Program and Cultural awareness programs continue to run across all staff
- Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People Education Pathways.
- Work experience
- Asked to partner with VAEAI Graduates Award Night and sponsor a Resilience Award with Nev Jetta presenting
- Seeing Flash (the Mascot) become more prominent in Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People Health and Wellbeing amongst Vic Kids
- Join the Gary Dukkah foundation and participate in courses up North to promote and engage Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People to become AFL coaches
- Hold RAP information session with our members, sponsors and founders so they can be a part of the journey as well
- Continue the re grassing project of Santa Theresa Oval
- Supply Nation Membership / Supplier Diversity