Reconciliation round divides opinion

Fremantle AFLW player Mikayla Morrison in the club’s Indigenous guernsey she designed. Photo: Mikayla Morrison.

The AFL’s upcoming reconciliation round aims to celebrate indigenous culture and players, but some say it doesn’t go far enough.

The AFL aims to raises awareness through the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, taking place this year across rounds 11 and 12.

Clubs play in guernsey’s featuring Aboriginal art designs from local artists to highlight the importance of their contribution to the game.

Fremantle AFLW player and Indigenous woman Mikayla Morrison was given the honour of designing the club’s guernsey last season and says it was a special moment.

Her guernsey design incorporated aspects from Perth area through Indigenous art. Photo: Fremantle Football Club.

“For me and my family to have that privilege to show the AFL world our history and connection to this country. I had a great pride wearing it back in Indigenous round.”

She says the celebration of Indigenous round gets bigger and better each year and it opens the opportunity to inform many people on important issues.

“We are able to educate our teammates, staff and fans on certain issues and problems in our community, and it creates a more culturally safe environment.”

“I am a proud Noongar, Yamatji, Kija woman and I’m able to showcase that on and off the field.”

Mikayla Morrison

However, some say the indigenous round is not achieving as much as it should.

Indigenous Services Australia speaker and Indigenous man Tony Shaw says not enough people outside of Indigenous communities recognise the full meaning of reconciliation.

“How can you reconcile with something or someone you know nothing about or have nothing to do with?”

He says it can be difficult to raise this, but he wants people to be educated and understand the issue.

Indigenous flag on display outside Curtin University grounds ahead of Reconciliation week. Photo: Matt Robson.

“I’ve learnt the hard way how to deliver a speech and put it in the way the public can understand.

“You don’t want them going away thinking you’re having a crack at them, but the reality is not enough people really understand or know anything about reconciliation” he says.

Mr Shaw has previously delivered addresses to the Collingwood Football Club, West Coast Eagles and at events around Perth, including Fremantle Port ceremonies.

“Not many people know what you’re talking about when it comes to reconciliation, because we’re all running down this track like it’s herd mentality when we’re supposedly acknowledging it.”