Hawthorn accuse slams ‘disingenuous’ AFL probe

One of the women to have made accusations of racism and mistreatment by senior figures at Hawthorn has announced she will not co-operate with the AFL’s investigation.

In a statement released by Marque Lawyers on Wednesday morning, the woman, known as “Amy” to protect her identity, alleges she is the victim of “appalling mistreatment by Hawthorn Football Club” and slammed the AFL investigation as “disingenuous” while casting doubt the process will be fair and independent.

The AFL announced Bernard Quinn KC would lead the investigation into allegations of “racist behaviour, bullying and other inappropriate conduct” by Hawthorn employees towards indigenous players between 2008-2016.

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Jacqualyn Turfrey, Tim Goodwin and Julie Buxton are the other panellists to undertake the probe.

“Why would I ask the protectors of the perpetrators who caused me all this trauma to then investigate the abuse?” Amy said in the statement.

The Gunditjmara and Bunitj woman said she feels “guilt” for having not spoken up at the time and refused “to consent to the silencing tactics of the AFL.”

She also said Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan have returned to their roles, however for her, “it is not business as usual”.

“It’s a little hard to speak up when it feels like your voice box has been pulled out of your throat,” Amy said.

“I could either stay numb and silent, or I could find my voice and play my part in the struggle to try and create safety and protection for our young ones who would inevitably face these systems.”

In the statement, Marque Lawyers – headed by Michael Bradley – said it was difficult to believe the AFL’s probe into the claims will expose the full scope of the situation because it is “not an independent investigation”.

“While we cast no aspersions on the nominated investigation panel members, the entire process will be conducted under the control of the AFL and for the AFL’s purposes,” the statement reads.

“If the AFL is genuinely concerned to unearth and expose the full depth of racist mistreatment of First Nations players and their families by one or more of its clubs, then it should engage an external body with appropriate expertise, operating completely independently of the AFL, to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the systemic racist abuses that the revelations regarding Hawthorn have exposed.

“Instead, the AFL’s own lawyers are assisting the investigation panel and corresponding with parties on its behalf.

“A lawyer was also appointed to represent the players and families, without first being asked what they wanted or any consideration of the diversity of their interests. The investigation report will be the property of the AFL, which will decide when and how it is released .

“It continues the pattern of abuse it is supposedly addressing.

“The investigation won’t respond to the findings of the Hawthorn Cultural Safety Review but rather interrogate whether the incidents of abuse even took place, which is a huge insult to the many First Nations players and family members who were brave enough to come forward to share and relive the trauma they experienced.”

The statement also said the investigation put the safety of the accusers at risk.

“There is no safety in this; no regard to or respect for privacy, no cultural sensitivity, only brutal intrusion upon the most intimate and traumatic experiences in the lives of the (alleged) victims of Hawthorn’s mistreatment,” the statement reads.

“The players and their families were promised anonymity by Hawthorn; now the club is asking them to consent to the disclosure of their personal information and doing nothing to protect them. It is clear that this investigation does not have as its focus a desire to remedy , or even be responsive to, the trauma that First Nations players and their families say they experienced.”

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