Collingwood forward Aliesha Newman says the way the Magpies are embracing the AFLW’s Indigenous round and the “Free the Flag” campaign shows the club is taking lessons from the Do Better report.
The review caused massive upheaval within the AFL powerhouse, with the resignation of long-time chairman Eddie McGuire, after it found systemic racism existed.
Speaking at the launch of this weekend’s inaugural Indigenous round, Newman has been behind a push for her team to wear Free the Flag T-shirts during pre-game warm-up, which is a movement for the flag to be made free of copyright restrictions that currently limit its use.
“The Free the Flag (campaign) is something that’s really significant in raising conversation,” said Newman, who is of Ningy Ningy descent from Redcliffe, Queensland, but grew up in Melbourne.
“Wearing a T-shirt like that is really powerful and I wanted to drive that with the club, especially with the Do Better report as well, it just goes to show that the club is really behind it.
“When I came to the club with that they were super supportive, as well as the AFL in wearing it.”
Newman was one of eight players from Melbourne clubs present at Tuesday’s launch, wearing their Indigenous jerseys.
Last year, the 24-year-old designed Melbourne’s Indigenous guernsey, but the AFLW season was cut short before they could wear it, with Collingwood wearing the same jersey as their men wore last season.
Newman has been involved in re-designing the AFLW logo with Indigenous art.
“It was unexpected and I’m humbled to be a part of it,” she said.
“It’s taken me a long time and I’ve done a couple of designs and hopefully the one I’ve stuck with will look pretty cool.”
There are 19 Indigenous players on AFLW lists, making up five per cent of the players, and Head of Women’s Football at the AFL Nicole Livingstone said they were working hard to continue this growth.
“Like women’s football pathways are expanding … and there are programs for Indigenous players to come through and also programs to support them as well,” Livingstone said.
“I’d love to see more Indigenous women come through who can make a significant contribution to our game like we’ve seen in the men’s.
“Having these amazing role models inspires the next generation.”
Unbeaten Collingwood play Melbourne at Victoria Park on Sunday.