Indigenous Round 2015

This weekend marks Indigenous Round for the AFL which AFL Sydney Clubs can celebrate.

The AFL Indigenous Round celebrates the contribution players, participants, fans and Indigenous communities bring to our game, both on and off the field. Round 9 of the Toyota AFL Premiership season will celebrate the "20th Anniversary of the Racial Vilification policy".

The 20 year anniversary of the AFL’s Racial Vilification Policy, a first in Australian sport, is being commemorated as part of the 2015 Toyota AFL Indigenous Round.

Round 9 of the Toyota AFL Premiership season will celebrate the contribution Indigenous people have made to Australian Football and will kick off with the Marngrook game at the Sydney Cricket Ground when the Sydney Swans take on Carlton.

Following a number of racial vilification incidents on field, four players took a stand against racism in 1995 and led the discussion on the issue with the AFL on behalf of all Indigenous players – Michael Long, Michael McLean, Che Cockatoo Collins and Gilbert McAdam. This resulted in a policy that the whole industry can be proud of.

This year, for the second time in the game’s history, all 18 AFL clubs will wear an Indigenous themed jumper, demonstrating the national scope of the celebration. The Sydney Swans will wear a jumper designed by Indigenous artist Lisa Sansbury, who is also the mother of Adam Goodes.

For the first time AFL umpires will wear Indigenous themed shirts, designed by Indigenous artists, while the majority of participants playing half-time Auskick will be from indigenous or Torres Strait island backgrounds.

All Indigenous Round matches will feature a Welcome to Country ceremony pre-match; a symbolic ceremony where the traditional custodians of the land welcome members of the wider community, as well as custom Indigenous Round Sherrin match balls.

At the launch earlier this week the AFL also reinforced its commitment to the Recognise campaign in support of the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s founding document.

The Recognise campaign will be prominent across Indigenous Round, with the big R for Recognise marked in the centre circle at all AFL matches.

So join the celebration of our country’s Indigenous culture and the proud athletes who’ve played such an important role, not just on the ground but also off it.

Ways your club can promote the 2015 Indigenous Round

There are many ways your club can promote the Indigenous Round including the following:

  • ‘Welcome to Country’ performed by an Indigenous community member
  • An ‘Acknowledgement to Country’ performed prior to the match
  • Having an Indigenous Guard of Honour
  • Acknowledging the theme prior to the game
  • Recognising the Indigenous players in your league or club with an article in the record
  • Encourage your players and families to go to the Indigenous Round game between the Sydney Swans and the Carlton Blues at the SCG on May 29 at 7:50pm (for more information please visit

  • Encourage your players and families to attend the game to be held for the GWS GIANTS v Brisbane Lions match at Spotless Stadium on Sunday June 7.

A ‘Welcome to Country’ or an ‘Acknowledgement to Country’

Both are protocols that precede the activity. They recognise the unique position of Aboriginal people in Australian culture and history and show respect for Aboriginal people.

If you are planning to include a 'Welcome to Country' or do an 'Acknowledgement of Country' make sure to consult with Aboriginal people of the community where the event takes place. This way you ensure that the ceremony pays the appropriate level of recognition and involves the right people.

Welcome to Country

'Welcome to Country' is an important ceremony by Aboriginal people and inviting them to perform it helps non-Indigenous people recognise Aboriginal culture and history.

A 'Welcome to Country' is a small ceremony where traditional owners, usually elders, welcome people to their land. This is a significant recognition and is made through a formal process, although it's up to the elder how they decide to carry out the ceremony. It also depends on the location of the event and the practice of the Aboriginal community which can vary greatly according to region.

During a 'Welcome to Country' the elders welcome those in attendance, guests, staff and students to their country. It might be just a simple speech or a performance of some sort, like a song, traditional dance, a didgeridoo piece or any combination of these.

'Welcome to Country' should always occur in the opening of the event in question, preferable as the first item. Note that a 'Welcome to Country' is often considered a right and not a privilege.

The 'Welcome to Country' ceremony was first conducted at an official ceremony in 1999 during the NSW Supreme Court's 175th anniversary, arranged by Chief Justice James Spigelman. In parliament it was first introduced at the start of parliament in 2008 and now forms a regular element of Australian political process.

Acknowledgement to Country

An 'Acknowledgement of Country' can be done by everyone, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, to pay respect to the fact that one is on Aboriginal land.

An 'Acknowledgement of Country' is a way that all people can show respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage and the ongoing relationship the traditional owners have with their land.

Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can perform 'Acknowledgement of Country'. It is a demonstration of respect dedicated to the traditional custodians of the land (or sea) where the event, meeting, school function or conference takes place.

If you have any enquiries about this information please feel free to contact AFL NSW/ACT Media and Communications advisor Sam Canavan – (E) or (P) 02 8333 8000



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