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Probe into racism scandal takes big step after AFL makes concession to families


Several complainants in the Hawthorn racism saga will now take part in the AFL’s independent investigation following a recent standoff and fears that the probe was in jeopardy or, at least, would be severely limited.

It has been reported that four families caught up in the saga will now take part after the AFL agreed to take an “industry-wide” approach to racism rather than treating the matter as a singular crisis or treating the issue on a club-by-club basis.

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The lawyer for the families has released a statement saying they will take the AFL in “good faith” that it will demonstrate a commitment to a broad response.

“The AFL has now publicly committed to work togther and coordinate a wider response to racism in the AFL. We accept and rely on this in good faith, unqualified, binding commitment by the AFL and based upon it, we reaffirm our willingness to participate in the HFC Independent Investigation,” the statement said.

“We trust that as a further demonstration of its good faith the AFL will now detail how and when it intends to commence this work, the terms of reference, who will undertake it, and if it will be open and transparent to the world.”

Previously the league had denied striking any separate deals for complainants to be involved after the Indigenous families had called for the AFL to admit to its own failings.

In a joint open letter directed to the AFL Commission and league boss Gillon McLachlan, the families wrote they want to “tell our truths” in a “culturally safe environment”.

The AFL followed that up with a statement, saying it had not come to any separate agreements with any participants in relation to the terms on which they would take part in the investigation.

A number of participants will now cooperate with the racism investigation at Hawthorn. Credit: AAP

“The work by the four-member panel has already begun and will continue to work with the various participants,” the AFL statement said.

“The AFL is committed to working together as an industry to coordinate a wider response that ensures we have a culturally safe environment across all our clubs and within the AFL industry.

“It is important to note that the wider industry response that was previously announced is a separate piece of work that will continue to be worked on by the AFL and, while it will be informed by the panel’s work, it is not part of the independent investigation process.”

Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan at the MCG in 2018. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Things came to a head last week when a woman at the centre of the racism claims, which focus on a period between 2008 and 2016, released a statement via her lawyers saying she would not take part in the investigation.

The woman known as ‘Amy’ (not her real name) said the independent investigation commissioned by the AFL was unsafe.

The statement from Marque Lawyers alleged Amy was the victim of “appalling mistreatment” by Hawthorn.

Amy’s statement came on the same day Alastair Clarkson began his new job as North Melbourne coach who vowed to strongly defend himself against all allegations directed at him dating from his time at Hawthorn.

Former Hawthorn football manager Chris Fagan has recently returned to his job as senior coach of the Brisbane Lions after standing down when the allegations surfaced via an ABC report in September. Both men deny the allegations.

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Source: 7News