Johns & Tahu call for greater understand in the community

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mr Mick Gooda, has issued a joint statement with Timana Tahu and Andrew Johns following an informal meeting between them in Sydney last night.

Timana and Andrew have each called for greater understanding in the community about what constitutes racism and have agreed to support each other in sending a message against racism of any kind.

Mr Gooda was asked to facilitate the private meeting between Timana and Andrew following Timana’s walk out of the NSW State of Origin Blues camp on 11 June in response to comments made by Andrew Johns.

Mr Gooda has issued the following statement in association with the pair:

“Mr Tahu and Mr Johns requested this meeting in an effort to resolve the issues that had come between them. The meeting took place last night, 28 June.

“Both Mr Tahu and Mr Johns acknowledge that the ongoing discussion and commentary about Mr Johns' comments was causing distress to their respective families and was damaging to the game they both love, Rugby League.

“Both Mr Johns and Mr Tahu believe that there can be positive outcomes for Rugby League, and the Australian community more generally, emerging from this incident and have committed to working together to combat racism.

“They believe that raising awareness of how racism can adversely impact on people from all backgrounds will deliver more benefits to the game. They believe that working together to combat racism will be more effective in educating the community against racism than any punitive measures.

“Mr Johns and Mr Tahu wish to state on record that racism should not be tolerated or defended in any circumstances.

“They now wish to rule a line under this incident and move forward to work together.

“They acknowledge and thank the community for the support they have received during this difficult time but now ask that supporters respect their wishes.

“They have each made it clear that they do not intend to make any further comment and ask that their families’ privacy be respected.”

The NRL has reaffirmed its commitment to working with the Australian Indigenous Council. The NRL and the Indigenous Council Chairman Mr Smiley Johnstone have also committed to meet with Commissioner Gooda and Race Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes at the Australian Human Rights Commission to assess the effective implementation of all anti-vilification procedures and to ensure that Rugby League achieves its goal of challenging racism.

“We have also undertaken to work with the Council to explore a number of options that have been discussed by Timana last week,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“An important part of the process has been to involve the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and I thank Mick Gooda for his efforts.

“We support Timana taking the stance that he has and we support the attitude that Andrew has also taken in facing up to the issues and promoting understanding through an independent process.

“At the centre of all of this must remain an attitude of zero tolerance towards racism of any kind.

“Rugby League can play a significant role in celebrating racial harmony and there can be few better examples of that than the All Stars game in February.

“It isn’t enough though to look at what has been achieved, we need to know that we are doing all that we can going forward and the NRL is committed to that process.”