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AFL ends probe into Hawthorn racism scandal with ‘no adverse findings’ against former coaches


The AFL today released the results of its independent panel inquiry into allegations of inappropriate conduct at Hawthorn Football Club.

From the moment the Hawthorn Football Club’s Binmada report leaked without any opportunity for input from the individuals against whom serious allegations had been made, it has been a period of great distress for all parties.

The AFL wishes to reiterate and acknowledge the significant emotional toll it has taken on everyone affected by this complex and delicate situation – those who have told their stories and those accused – and the public nature of how it has played out since late September 2022.

With this background, any research would become a challenge. We strongly believe, as we did when setting up the Independent Inquiry in October 2022, that the appointment of an independent panel is and was the best possible way to deal with these serious allegations.

The AFL thanks panel chair Bernard Quinn KC and panelists Tim Goodwin, Jacqualyn Turfrey and Julie Buxton for their work over the past seven months. The purpose of the independent panel inquiry was to investigate relevant matters and make recommendations to the AFL, including whether individuals should be subject to disciplinary action for violations of AFL rules and today’s resolution should be viewed through that lens.

The AFL can only sanction violations of the AFL Rules against persons subject to the AFL Rules and respects the right of the various parties to the investigation (and those who chose not to participate) to make claims in other legal forums to submit. Today’s results do not stand in the way of those rights.

Today, with the approval of the Independent Panel including Panel Chair Bernard Quinn KC, the AFL and the six complainants (“Complainants”) participating in the litigation (“Parties”) have resolved as follows;

a) No adverse findings have been made in the independent investigation against any of the individuals against whom allegations have been made (“Individual Respondents”).

b) Complainants wish to resolve all disagreements with the AFL.

c) As a result of this agreement, the Complainants do not wish to continue the Investigation by the Independent Panel (which they wholeheartedly supported), or bring any claims against the AFL in any other litigation (including the AHRC) or court in connection with their accusations.

d) The Complainants agree that their allegations should not be further investigated by the Independent Panel.

e) The AFL has now closed the independent panel investigation with the consent of the complainants, with no charge against any person subject to the AFL rules as a result of the independent investigation.

The parties make the following acknowledgments:

a) The AFL acknowledges that each of the Complainants feels hurt, pain and fear after their time with Hawthorn FC.

b) The parties acknowledge that the manner in which their allegations were leaked to the media was not in the interest of either party.

c) The Complainants acknowledge that the Independent Panel established by the AFL was a positive and constructive process to fully and fairly investigate their allegations in a culturally safe manner and that they have only consented to the termination of that process because of this Agreement.

This agreement does not prevent the AFL from bringing an action under AFL rules against Hawthorn FC in relation to the commissioning and oversight of the Binmada Report.

The AFL greatly values ​​all players and officials in our game and is committed to working with all clubs and all its people to continually improve the environments and ensure they welcome, support and understand everyone who comes to our game.

There have been hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players who have played our game and collectively played over 25,000 games.

The AFL knows that there have been instances of racism throughout the long history of our game and players have been marginalised, hurt or discriminated against because of their race and we apologize for that.

The AFL further commits to significantly increasing its resources for its continuous improvement model, which focuses on measures to combat racism and improve the cultural safety of First Nations players and their families in the AFL and AFLW. We are wholeheartedly committed to delivering on our commitments to making the game stronger and safer for all players, and we understand that this requires us to continually address our structures and systems, and to this end the AFL is agreeing to a series of initiatives which are listed at the bottom of the statement.

Bernard Quinn KC, the chair of the independent panel said: “The panel supports the agreement and the results announced today in connection with the investigation over the past few months and I can confirm that as part of the agreement, the work of the panel will fuses.”

Finally, the AFL confirms, subject to the agreed terms of the resolution, including the agreement of the panel chair to the immediate termination of the independent investigation, that the panel will not issue a report based on the information provided to date .

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