ARL to investigate racial abuse claims

The Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council will investigate claims of racial abuse that have been made following the Aboriginal Knock-Out on the Central Coast last week.

ARL Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone, will attempt to meet with all parties to determine if a formal complaint is to be lodged and to examine any relevant facts in regard to the issue.

While it receives significant logistical support from the Country and NSW Rugby Leagues, the knock-out is one of the biggest Indigenous community events in NSW and is an autonomous event that is proud of its 40-year history.

This year’s competition was administered by the Barwon Aboriginal Community from Walgett.

The NSWRL has offered to assist in facilitating any complaint under its racial vilification policy and would invite the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission to provide professional conciliation under that policy if appropriate.

“The first step is to get to the bottom of what people are saying,” Mr Johnstone said today.

“At the moment we are seeing claim and counter claim in the media.

“The ARL Indigenous Council this year offered its assistance on these issues and we believe it is important for everyone that we get to the bottom of things.

“The contribution the game has made to Indigenous athletes this year has been tremendous and that makes it all the more important that we understand exactly what the situation is.

“Hopefully we can achieve that in a short space of time.”