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‘We have to keep pushing change’: McLachlan pledges more diversity in coaching

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan says increasing the diversity of those employed in the game’s coaching and administrative ranks will require a push from headquarters as it is not happening organically.

He said the league would need to force change rather than just wait for opportunities to open up for people from diverse backgrounds as that approach was taking too long.

McLachlan pledged to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment at the AFL and to support people from diverse backgrounds to establish careers in the industry in coaching and administration as well as taking on leadership roles in executive positions and on boards.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.Credit:Getty Images

“We have to keep pushing change, not waiting for it to happen organically. It’s frankly too slow,” McLachlan said.

“We need to add more people from diverse backgrounds to our organisations at all levels and ensure our clubs at all levels of the game do the same.”

Despite more than 10 per cent of the playing population being of Indigenous heritage and growing diversity among playing ranks Richmond’s Xavier Clarke and the Western Bulldogs’ Travis Varcoe were the only two former Indigenous players employed as coaches in the clubs’ men’s programs in 2021.

There has also been little diversity among administration or media coverage of the game with racism remaining a major issue for players from non-anglo backgrounds.

In 2003, the NFL adopted the Rooney Rule to ensure a more diverse range of candidates were interviewed for vacant coaching positions.

McLachlan made his statement when responding to Australian Sports Commission CEO Josephine Sukkar’s Dungala Kaiela Oration which called on all major sporting organisations to come together with a common voice to tackle the issues confronting people from non-Anglo backgrounds who are involved in sport.

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