‘Traumatized’ families at center of Hawthorn allegations of racism could be excluded from investigation as lawyer claims AFL rushes probe
- Hawthorn racism review claims former coaches separated First Nations players from families and demanded termination of pregnancy
- Former Hawthorn staff, Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan, have stepped down from AFL clubs North Melbourne and Brisbane pending an investigation.
- A lawyer representing families at the heart of the allegations alleges the AFL is trying to expedite proceedings and the families may withdraw from the investigation
- Click here for all your latest international sports news on Daily Mail Australia
A lawyer representing the people making historic racist accusations against AFL club Hawthorn fears some Indigenous families will not be able to participate in the AFL’s investigation because of the rush with which it is being conducted.
Hawthorn has launched its own independent investigation into allegations of racist treatment, including a case of an Indigenous player who claimed to have been told by club officials to break up with his partner and have her have an abortion.
Hawthorn has been rocked by historic accusations of racism and the AFL is investigating
The same player claims that he was manipulated and convinced to remove his SIM card from his phone so that he could no longer communicate with his family.
On Thursday, the AFL released the terms of reference for an appointed panel to investigate allegations of mistreatment of players and partners between 2008 and 2016, including then-senior coach Alastair Clarkson and assistant Chris Fagan.
After the allegations were published last month, Clarkson – the newly appointed North Melbourne coach – and current Brisbane coach Fagan each stepped down from their posts pending the outcome of the investigation.
With the pre-season preparation in the coming days in North, and a little later in Brisbane when they made the preliminary final, the AFL is keen to see the investigation done quickly to allow the coaches to get to work.
Newly appointed North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was the Hawks’ coach at the time the allegations refer and has been stepped down by the Kangaroos
dr. Judy Courtin, a lawyer representing one of the families allegedly mistreated by the club, said the AFL’s rush could deter some First Nation families from participating.
“My clients are still very traumatized and they are not in a position to make a final decision about which path to take,” Dr. Judy Courtin. ABC Sports.
“If my clients participate, they have one month from today to compile all statements, allegations and materials and provide them to the panel.
“To answer the other participants and then write final submissions based on all the material in one month.
“We have multiple sides, issues and accusations – to do that in a month and say it’s culturally safe is impossible.
‘[My clients] feel really crushed by this process.’
Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan was football manager with the Hawks at the time and has also resigned pending the AFL investigation
Despite the uncertainty, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan remains optimistic about the participating families.
“We encourage the complainants to tell their story,” McLachlan said.
“We believe it’s an independent, culturally diverse panel, it’s a job description that’s transparent… and we’re here on behalf of the families.
“But that will ultimately be a decision of the complainants and their lawyers.”
The investigation will continue anyway, McLachlan said.
AFL CEO Gil McLachlan said the investigation will continue and wants it to be completed before Christmas
“There is information that the panel can work with, but it is a better and more complete investigation if the complainants can work with the panel,” he said.
In the case of some families that don’t participate or don’t participate at all, it would be a “whitewash,” said Dr. Courtin.
“It wouldn’t be credible, you wouldn’t make much money if half or all of the families didn’t participate,” she said.
“It would make them feel very betrayed.
“We understand and accept that Clarkson and Fagan have to defend these allegations, but many people are stepping down from their positions until a resolution is reached.”