TRIPLE premiership Tiger Bachar Houli played a key role in the AFL's major update to the vilification rule announced this week.
Houli formed part of the eight-person committee to oversee changes to the rule which includes the expansion of those able to report an incident to a wider net than just a vilified player.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT AFL releases update to AFL Vilification Rule (Rule 35)
Match day officials, umpires, office bearers, coaches and players will now be able to report incidents with the deadline for gameday matters increased from two days to two weeks.
Introduced as Rule 30 to combat on-field abuse for race, colour and religion in the aftermath of Essendon champion Michael Long experiencing racial abuse in 1995, it was amended in 2013 to include vilification relating to disability, appearance and sexuality.
Under Long's recommendation, the newly updated Rule 35 will now be known as the 'Peek Rule' to honour late AFL administrator Tony Peek for his work to combat vilification.
"I think it's appropriate to continue to review that and continue to improve and that's our mindset in the broader space generally," League chief executive Gillon McLachlan said on Wednesday.
"We're on a journey we think we're leading, and we can always do better and we're continuing to reflect on that all the time."
While the timeframe to report incidents has increased, the AFL also holds the discretion to investigate any matter regardless of timing.
Section 35.1 in the rule has been updated to read: "No person subject to the Rules and Regulations shall act towards or speak to any other person in a manner, or engage in any other conduct which threatens, disparages, vilifies or insults another person ("the person vilified") on any basis, including but not limited to, a person's race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity."
Six key recommendations stemming from the report included the need for:
1. Stronger education programs for AFL and AFLW competitions to better inform players, clubs, officials, members and the public
2. Greater awareness for media and broadcast members including social media
3. More education on the process of reporting and investigation
4. A deeper investigation for second tier and community football
5. To develop and promote professional and peer support services to parties impacted
6. Developing an evaluation checklist for continuous improvement
As well as the eight-person Rule 35 committee, the review also took in 44 submissions and responses from all 18 AFL clubs and stakeholders across various levels of the game.
The Rule 35 committee consisted of:
- Tanya Hosch - General Manager - Inclusion and Social Policy, AFL
- Steve Hocking - General Manager - Football Operations, AFL
- Andrew Dillon - General Counsel/General Manager Game Development, AFL
- Ro Allen – Victorian Commissioner for Gender & Sexuality
- Bachar Houli - Current Player, Richmond Football Club
- John Cranwell - CEO, Inclusive Sport SA
- Paul Briggs - Executive Director, Kaiela Institute
- Tony Keane - Head of Integrity and Security, AFL