As Chair of the Football Australia National Indigenous Advisory Group (NIAG) and on behalf of my NIAG colleagues, I acknowledge Football Australia’s statement today in relation to last night’s Australia Cup 2022 Final between Sydney United 58 FC and Macarthur FC, and the level of noise during the Welcome to Country given by Erin Wilkins and other inappropriate conduct by certain segments of the crowd.
I have been in contact with Football Australia over the course of the day about the incidents at the match last night. I have also taken the opportunity to gather information and speak with community members, both within and outside of football.
Protocols for welcoming visitors on country have always been part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. It has been long used by our People to convey safe passage and protection of visitor’s spiritual being during their journey on country, as well as a sign of respect for the country of another.
It is extremely disappointing that respect for the cultures and practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is not met by some sections of Australian society today in the same spirit in which it is extended.
The incidents last night caused by some individuals and groups in the stadium was ignorant and intended to drown out the Welcome to Country. This type of behaviour was disrespectful and must not continue in our game and attitudes must change.
Football Australia has commenced a process to investigate the behaviour of certain individuals and groups of supporters in the stadium. This incident will be considered as a part of that process. I am in contact with Erin Wilkins and will continue to work with her and the local Indigenous community to support Football Australia in addressing these incidents.
I am proud that as a Reconciliation Action Plan organisation, Football Australia has expressed its support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and is committed to playing a leading role in Australia’s journey of Reconciliation. Last night’s incidents, however, demonstrate that there is still much dialogue and educational work to be done.
Football Australia’s National Indigenous Advisory Group has a crucial role to play in this journey and we remain resolute in our mission. We will continue to advise Football Australia through the investigation process.