North Melbourne midfielder Aaron Hall addressed the playing and coaching group before training on Friday, with an important message.
“I’m speaking on behalf of the players here today who are from a black community or an Indigenous community, as well as our CEO, and we have a lot of staff who are from those communities as well,” he said.
“Obviously we know what’s going on in the world right now, and the black lives matter movement.
“It’s not a white versus black movement; it’s a point to get to get to a place where it’s all lives matter, and right now, black lives don’t matter to a lot of people.
“We’re pretty valued in our football club, and in our industry that we are valued and treated equal, but out there in our communities and the world, it’s not the same case.”
“Many of you would probably think that it’s not that bad in Australia and it doesn’t happen, but just one little stat will change your mind … since ’91 and the royal commission, there’s been 430 indigenous deaths in custody, and not one person’s been convicted. Let that sink in; that could be your family, that could be your great grandfather, your mother, any part of your family.
“We’re pretty lucky to have players and staff that have come from different backgrounds, all different walks of life, different countries, and we share something the same and that’s our skin colour. We embrace each other and we understand what we have been through to this day.
“You’re probably sitting here thinking, ‘How can I help? What can I do? I don’t really know what to do’, and that’s normal.
“The first thing we make change in the world is just in our homes, and that’s getting education. We’ve got guys here who are more than happy to answer questions.
“I know a couple of guys have already done that, and that means a hell of a lot, but it changes in our homes, with our children and hopefully the next generation won’t have to do deal with what we’ve dealt with, and those prior to us have dealt with.
“With our football club, I just looked at our values, and two of our pillars are ‘family’ and ‘respect’, and behaviours under family are ‘caring’ and ‘building relationships’, which is what we do really well in this footy club. That can go to another level.
“From that as well is protecting our own, so we will protect each other. In the fight against racism, the respect part of is ‘treat people the way you want to be treated’, which is another behaviour we live by.
“The last one and the most pivotal one is ‘knowing your role and playing our role’, which is what we’re going to do today in match-sim, moving forward into the season, it’s automatic … we expect that from each individual that we know and play our role.
“But when you see racism, say something, challenge it, and that’ll go a big way into making a big difference.
“Hopefully in the future we don’t have to be sitting here and segregating blacks and whites.”