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AFL commits to indigenous commissioner by 2018

Paul Briggs, chair of the AFL's Indigenous Advisory Council, with League chairman Mike Fitzpatrick at the Sir Doug Nicholls statue near Parliament Gardens in Melbourne

THE AFL has committed to appointing an indigenous commissioner by 2018 in what has been labeled a 'game-changing' decision for the code.

As the AFL celebrates Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round this weekend, the League has ticked off on a number of recommendations put forward by the AFL Indigenous Advisory Council.

The commitment is part of a range of objectives which were put to the AFL Commission by the advisory board, which includes promoting indigenous leaders in roles in the industry and extending the celebrations at the 'Dreamtime at the 'G' game to all matches during Indigenous Round. 

The League also said it would provide more education, employment and training opportunities to indigenous people, will establish a national program to improve player retention and strengthen community football competitions in regional areas.

AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said the appointment of an indigenous commissioner would be an important step for the competition. 

"The issue of representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women at all levels of the game remains a significant challenge," Fitzpatrick said.

"The AFL Commission acknowledges that to further advance the influence and contribution of indigenous Australians, we must work toward better representation in the governance of the game, including the AFL Commission, AFL club boards, state bodies and the community competitions. 

"Currently our game enjoys strong indigenous representation of approximately nine per cent in the playing group but improvement is needed it when it comes to representation in other roles."

A new commissioner has to be signed off by all clubs, who receive a recommendation from a nominations committee. The committee includes Fitzpatrick, commissioner Richard Goyder and club presidents Peggy O'Neal (Richmond) and David Koch (Port Adelaide). 

Paul Briggs, who chairs the AFL's Indigenous Advisory Council, praised the League's decision to commit to having an Indigenous commissioner within two years.

"The appointment of an indigenous commissioner will be a game changer," he said.

"Indigenous people have a desire to be represented at all levels of the game they love, and the appointment of an indigenous commissioner will be an historic moment in Australian sport."

Paul Briggs with AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick. Picture: AFL Media