Shaun Burgoyne spoke at the launch of the Many Stories, One Goal document
HAWTHORN midfielder Shaun Burgoyne says the numbers of indigenous players on AFL lists will ebb and flow, and the dip in numbers for 2013 does not represent a downward trend.
There are 69 players with indigenous heritage on AFL lists this season, a slight decline on recent years, but Burgoyne says the reason for the downturn was cyclical.
"I think it's just one of those things where a few players went out of the system and not many came in," Burgoyne said on Wednesday.
"[We] might see a reverse this year where more come in and less go out."
Burgoyne spoke at the launch of the Many Stories, One Goal document initiated by the AFLPA's Indigenous Players' Advisory Board. He said clubs were improving all the time in relation to their understanding of the issues facing indigenous players.
"Clubs are now starting to adopt the philosophy that every player is different," Burgoyne said.
"Every individual is different that comes into the system. Even if you are indigenous, you are not the same as the indigenous player next to you.
"Clubs are becoming a lot better at their personal development and their cultural learning."
Players developed the document to provide clubs with guidelines as to how they can support indigenous players effectively. Clubs were consulted across the competition to ascertain best practice.
AFLPA CEO Matt Finnis said the document would be a practical resource for football managers, CEOs and boards to refer to when they brought young indigenous players into the club.
"Hopefully, we've got a reference point for all clubs to be able to raise the bar collectively," Finnis said.
Burgoyne said players who were more comfortable in the club environment would produce better performances on the field.
He said the prospect of an indigenous welfare officer being employed at each club was a matter for individual clubs and their capacity to provide such a resource, but it was emphasised that most of the ideas within the document did not require extra resources to be implemented.