Inaugural AFLW Indigenous Round launched

The AFL has today launched the inaugural Indigenous Round which will be celebrated in Round Five of the 2021 NAB AFL Women’s Competition.

AFL General Manager Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone was joined by 2021 AFLW Indigenous Round Honouree representative Chenile Chandler and Victorian AFLW player representatives at Yarra Park today to welcome the dedicated round which will be held from February 26 - 28.

The 2021 AFLW Indigenous Round acknowledges and highlights the contribution of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander communities to Australian Football and our country.

Similar to the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, the inaugural AFLW Indigenous Round will pay tribute to an Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander person who has contributed to the game and community.


'It's more than footy': AFLW players celebrate inaugural Indigenous Round

02:42 Feb 22. 2021. 9:00 PM

AFLW players explain what the historic round means to them

In honour of her contribution to Australian Football, senior Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri People of Melbourne and surrounds Aunty Joy Murphy AO has been selected as the 2021 AFLW Indigenous Round Honouree.

With grand-daughter Chenile Chandler accepting the honour on her grandmother’s behalf at today’s launch, Aunty Joy Murphy AO said she was thrilled to be to be named the first 2021 AFLW Indigenous Round Honouree.

“I’m lost for words. It’s a great honour to be named the first 2021 AFLW Indigenous Round Honouree and I’m beyond grateful,” Aunty Joy Murphy AO said.

As a mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother, I hope this award encourages more of our women and girls to be involved and advocate for whatever their passion is. I hope it encourages them to be a voice, and to be heard. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

(L-R) Mia King, Maddison Gay, Natalie Plane and Aliesha Newman at the launch of AFLW Indigenous Round. Picture: AFL Photos

AFL Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch said Aunty Joy Murphy’s leadership and longstanding contribution to football was significant.

“Aunty Joy has been a significant cultural leader across the competition for many years and we are delighted to have her as our inaugural AFLW Indigenous Round Honouree,” Ms Hosch said.

“Through her strong cultural leadership and advocacy, Aunty Joy has contributed to our understanding and education of First Nations cultures and has played a key role in the cultural development and growth of the ceremonies connected to the Dreamtime at the G, the AFL Grand Final and many other significant AFL events and ceremonies.  Aunty Joy has also been a staunch supporter of the AFLW competition from its inception.

“In addition to her involvement with Australian Football, Aunty Joy continues to make important contributions to the Aboriginal community in the fields of social justice, land rights, equal opportunity, art and reconciliation.”

As part of the dedicated round, all AFLW clubs will wear specially designed Indigenous Round guernseys, while AFL umpires will wear the 2020 Sir Doug Nicholls Round designed umpire uniforms which represents both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

In addition, ground signage at AFLW matches will include a representation of the Aboriginal Women’s art symbol on the outside of the centre circle and feature the name of the traditional owners of the land on which the match is played.

General Manager Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone said the inaugural Round was a great opportunity for fans to celebrate the contribution of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander women both on and off the field.

“The inaugural AFLW Indigenous Round will draw on stories of empowerment, strength, resilience, and determination and will showcase the journey of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander women on and off the football field,” Ms Livingstone said.

“Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander women have played a significant role in the development of our sport for many years, so we’re delighted that we’re able to recognise their contribution to our game in the first dedicated round this weekend.

“The 2021 AFLW Indigenous Round provides AFLW players and fans from Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous heritage with the opportunity to embrace Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander culture and I’m looking forward to seeing this round flourish for many years to come.”

The inaugural AFLW Indigenous Round will take place in round five, 2021. Picture: Graham Denholm, AFL Photos

Aunty Joy Murphy AO:

  • Aunty Joy is a member of the Victorian Honour roll of Women and an officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
  • Aunty Joy Murphy has played a key role in the cultural formation of the Dreamtime at the G with her Welcome to Country ceremonies.
  • An honorary Professor at Swinburne University
  • Chair of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development at the Victorian College of the Arts University of Melbourne
  • Board member of Fraynework Multimedia (Sisters of Mercy)
  • Co-Patron for Keeping Koori Kids in Catholic Education
  • Patron for Parliament of World Religions.
  • Ambassador for Breast Screen Victoria, Australia Day Victoria and an Animal Ambassador for Zoos Victoria.

Aboriginal Women’s symbol: 

  • The NAB AFLW competition will feature a representation of the traditional Aboriginal Women’s art symbol throughout the week. 
  • The symbol includes a U-shape that represents the earth after someone sits cross-legged, which has come to symbolize a person.
  • The tools or weapons painted beside the U-shape help define the person’s gender. A symbol for a woman may carry an oval-shaped coolamon bowl and digging stick.
  • Coolamon is a bowl (a curved wooden tray) which has been used by many Aboriginal tribes especially by Aboriginal women as a gathering tool. They use it as a dish to hold food, in the case of deep Coolamon as water carrier and even a rocker for putting babies to sleep.
  • Digging sticks are hand crafted wooden implements, sharpened at one end, which the Aboriginal women use to dig for edible bush tucker (roots, tubers, honey ants, reptiles). In women’s ceremonies they are used as clapping sticks.

Umpires uniform: 

  • AFL Umpires will wear the 2020 Sir Doug Nicholls Round designed umpire’s uniforms which was created by two students from Worawa Aboriginal College. 
  • The design is a collaboration of two separate pieces of artwork by current student Rose Archie and former student Zephaniah Neil.
  • This umpire shirt artwork features water and turtles on the shoulder which represents the Torres Strait Island communities, while a black whip snake spans across the middle of the shirt symbolizing Aboriginal culture.

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