In a landmark moment for the game, Football Australia have announced the formation of a National Indigenous Advisory Group where nine individuals will provide insight into the goals of indigenous communities across of Australia.
These nine individuals come from diverse cultures, have differing experiences and work in all forms of football.
The members are as follows:
- Kenny Bedford – Traditional Owner from the Meuram clan of Erub (located in the Torres Strait Islands). Member of the Torres Strait Regional Authority. Board Member of Reconciliation Australia.
- Frank Farina OAM – Torres Strait Islander. Socceroos cap #329. Indigenous captain of the Socceroos. Olympian. Football coach and educator.
- Selina Holtze – Gurindji, Jingili (NT) and Yawuru (WA). Football Northern Territory Board Member. Government relations, governance, and community engagement.
- Narelda Jacobs – Whadjuk Noongar. Welcome to Country Board Member. Ambassador for WA Aboriginal Leadership Institute, The Pinnacle Foundation, and the Disability Services Commission. Well respected presenter on Channel 10 and NITV.
- Professor John Maynard – Worimi. Esteemed academic. Chair of Aboriginal History at the University of Newcastle. Director of the Purai Global Indigenous History Centre. Executive Committee of the Australian Historical Association.
- Doctor Karen Menzies – Wonnarua. Matildas cap #30. First Indigenous woman to play for the Australian Women’s National Team. Esteemed academic. Lecturer, Discipline of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Senior Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Child Protection.
- Jade North (co-chair) – Biripi. Socceroo cap #466. Indigenous captain of the Socceroos. Olympian. Founding Director of Kickin with a Cuz Indigenous football program. Ambassador of Mental Health Awareness Foundation.
- Tanya Oxtoby – Yamaji. Football coach and educator. UEFA A licence coach. Qualified sports psychologist. First Indigenous captain of a W-League side (Perth Glory).
- Kyah Simon – Anaiwan and Biripi. Current Commonwealth Bank Matilda cap #157. Olympian. First Indigenous footballer to score at FIFA World Cup. Founding Director of Kyah Simon Football Clinics.
- Sarah Walsh (co-chair) – Football Australia Head of Women’s Football, Women’s World Cup Legacy & Inclusion. Matildas cap #125.
- Courtney Hagen (secretariat) – Butchulla and Gubbi Gubbi. Football Australia Engagement Lead, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Jade North, former Socceroo and Brisbane Roar legend expressed how integral the advisory group is to maintaining relationships with the Indigenous community.
“Football is all about unity, diversity and equity and I believe it is important that First Nations people voices are part of the football conversation,” said North.
“I have seen an increasing connection with First Nations people and football over the past few years. In some of the tournaments I have been to I see a lot of passion, I see a lot of skill, I see a lot of desire, and everyone is proud of their mob and where they are from.
“What I would love to see over the next couple of decades for our First Nations people is having a big representation of Indigenous people, in various roles, at all levels of the national teams and domestically. I would also love to see Indigenous culture deeply intertwined with Australian football, driving the respect and celebration of one of the oldest and continuing culture in the world.”
James Johnson also expressed his excitement at the establishment of the advisory group, perceiving it as a big step for football in Australia as a whole.
“This is a momentous day for football in Australia. The National Indigenous Advisory Group will bring to the forefront the voices, lived experience and rich knowledge that can only come from First Nations people,” said Johnson.
“Our Indigenous heritage is a critical component of Australian football’s identity and story. First Nations participation and elite representation within football dates to the 1930’s with pioneering names such as Charlie Perkins, Harry Williams, Karen Menzies and John Moriarty. To provide the opportunity for the next generation to continue in this tradition and to strengthen Indigenous participation at all levels of the game, we need to create stronger pathways and ensure we foster an environment that welcomes and embraces.
“The collective leadership of the group will play an integral role in guiding Football Australian as we take important steps towards becoming a leader in our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”
Anaiwan and Birpi woman and Matildas and Tottenham forward Kyah Simon also stated that this embrace of the Indigenous community will pay dividends for years to come.
“I think it is important to have First Nations voices in football as Indigenous peoples have a lot to offer the game,” said Simon.
“The future for football for our First Nations people is bright, exciting and I can’t wait to see down the track what investment, time and opportunity in our people will give us.
“I would love to see the opportunities I have had in football provided to others across the game. I am proud to be part of a collective group that can assist in the elevation of their voices and help build strategies and processes to engage more First Nations people in our game.”
The National Indigenous Advisory Group will focus on various key segments of the game within Australia, including:
- Supporting the ongoing cultural safety for football’s Indigenous participants to assist in retaining First Nations players, coaches, support staff, administrators, and in governance.
- Evaluation and advice on football pathways and programs designed to drive social outcomes.
- Guidance on future strategic partnerships and employment strategies.
- Promotion of reconciliation through the ongoing engagement and shared development of Football Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan.