Sunday, June 1, 2014

Recognise and St. Kilda

This is an amended post from my Facebook page. Sharing it onward because I wish to fuel discussion.

I am currently in the process of writing up some stuff I found when recently over in Hawaii, and tackling some looming homegrown stuff as well.

One such thing was a recent photo put out by the Recognise campaign indicating that the St. Kilda football club had pledged their support for Constitutional Recognition. This is further explained on the St Kilda website. I have been, more and more, indicating my personal stance as being opposed to this move for a number of reasons. My reasons for being opposed to the move for Constitutional Recognition are currently being collaborated and will hopefully be posted soon. To this point though, I have personally avoided delving, as due to my position within the NTEU, I do not want to be seen wrongly as representing members' views. I am a staff member of the NTEU, not an elected representative yet community often conflates the two.

To return to the recent post by Recognise. As far as ensuring that my lack of support was sealed, the St Kilda FC support really took the cake. If Recognise are going to use football clubs as their poster boys to ensure public support then they should be looking at teams that don't publicly paint women who bring cases of sexual abuse against players as liars in the media whilst also rallying to raise money from their rich sponsors for a player's legal defence against said charges then fronting up at a White Ribbon event only weeks later. As a black woman, St. Kilda support for CR is like a rude slap in the face.

Aboriginal women, in some parts of the country, experience domestic violence at a rate roughly 45 times what the mainstream rate is, and are significantly more likely to be victims of sexual assault than other women. This is a real issue that needs tackling. If Recognise is looking at getting women on board perhaps it should look broader than trying to clinch popular support by using a team in which certain players and officials deal with cases of violence against women so flippantly. Then again, using football clubs for promotional purposes seems to be the "free kick" when building popular support in this country, so I doubt much thought has gone into this at all.

It was pointed out to me that as the AFL broadly supports Constitutional Recognition and has stated so, then St. Kilda endorsement is expected. I agree with this completely, but for me, it just reinforces the point that this campaign is more about celebrity endorsement and outward acceptability and respectability than it is about causing any real change. Football players are god-like figures in this country. Using their profile is guaranteed to attract positive attention to a campaign. However, using their profile indiscriminately causes offence. How can I even begin to accept that this is truly a campaign for social equality and recognition of first peoples when the ethics of certain people within the ranks of this club when it comes to the topic of women's rights, as displayed publicly, leave a hell of a lot to be desired? If this is the CR playbook then what changes can we actually expect Constitutional Recognition to achieve, particularly for black women? 


  1. Looking forward to your thoughts on Recognise more generally. If we except the premise that it is not radical enough, is it better than nothing?