RESPECTED coach Alastair Clarkson has called on the entire AFL industry to stand up as leaders for social change on racism, rather than leaving the responsibility solely with the game's Indigenous players.
The conversation around racism in football has been ongoing in recent weeks, reignited by former Adelaide captain Taylor Walker's racist comment at an SANFL game and his subsequent six-match suspension.
AFL players continue to be racially abused on a weekly basis, often by anonymous social media users, with players, clubs and the League repeatedly condemning the behaviour.
Carlton star Eddie Betts laid bare his pain this week, saying he does not feel the AFL is a safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.
Outgoing Hawthorn coach Clarkson lamented the fact retiring champions Betts and Shaun Burgoyne, as well as Sydney's Adam Goodes before them, had not been able to get their message across strongly enough to stamp out racist behaviour.
"The AFL platform is a really powerful platform on social change and I think we all need to take up the role and responsibility," Clarkson said on Friday ahead of his final match as Hawthorn coach.
"Going back to Polly Farmer and Barry Cable, the most significant thing that's happened to our game in the last 50 years is that these (Indigenous) guys have brought so much excitement and they've been able to educate us about their culture.
"It's the oldest culture in the land - in the world, in actual fact - and it's enhanced our game and enhanced our society.
"But it can no longer be their own people that are trying to fight for their own cause; it needs to be all of us fighting for that, and that needs to be worldwide, really.
"But right here in Australia it's the most significant (issue) that sits right in front of us ... and as an AFL code we're going to push that as hard as we can."
Clarkson has coached some of the game's greatest Indigenous entertainers, including Cyril Rioli, Lance Franklin and Burgoyne.
Burgoyne said he feels for Betts, with the veteran pair set to end their playing careers this weekend with more than 750 games between them.
"Eddie's been through a lot through his playing career and obviously going through the Walker stuff, who's a close mate of his, has been very stressful for him," Burgoyne said.
"I've always tried to help in this area and tried to make clubs and the AFL a better place, but it's an ongoing fight and one that the players are up for.
"We've got to continue to try and make the AFL a better place, so it's not done and dusted by any means."
THE RIPPLE EFFECT Streaming now in AFL On Demand
Burgoyne has been involved in a part-time advisory role to assist with the development and implementation of Hawthorn's Indigenous program.
The 38-year-old four-time premiership star said he is working through ways he can continue to help Indigenous people through football beyond his playing days.