• An official AFL Indigenous Round 10 Sherrin featuring artwork designed by Gavin Wanganeen. (AFL Media)Source: AFL Media
The AFL's governing body has taken steps to address the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in its boardroom with the appointment of its first Indigenous Commissioner.
Jack Latimore

21 Dec 2018 - 1:46 PM  UPDATED 21 Dec 2018 - 2:05 PM

The Australian Football League has today announced the appointment of its first Indigenous commissioner, finally honouring the commitment made by a former chairman of the administration in May 2016.

Palkyu woman Professor Helen Milroy will officially become the governing body’s tenth commissioner following the AFL Annual General Meeting in March next year.

Prof Milroy has previously also served on the AFL’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and is the recipient of numerous awards for contribution to First Nations peoples education and mental health services.

Elsewhere, Prof Milroy has served on numerous local, state, national and international committees, advisory groups, policy groups and boards. 

She has been involved in the Wharerata group as part of the International Initiative in Mental Health Leadership since its inception and was involved in setting up the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association which is now a leading voice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

In a statement, Prof Milroy said she is excited about the opportunity to work with the AFL Commission.

“This is an important opportunity to focus on mental health as well as the wellbeing of children and communities through their participation in sport,” she said.

Chairman of the AFL Commission, Richard Goyder said Prof Milroy was an outstanding appointment, and that her skills and experience would add to the strength of the Commission.

“I am extremely pleased that Professor Milroy is joining the Commission. Helen brings the highest level of clinical and policy experience in the important areas of health, mental health and indigenous affairs to the game’s governing body,” said Mr Goyder.

In 2016, amid increasing calls for Indigenous representation on the Commission, former chairman Mike Fitzpatrick  gave a commitment  to make the appointment before the end of 2018. 

The Commission’s present Chairman , Mr Groyder, restated that commitment when he met the Indigenous Advisory Committee in September 2017, shortly after taking the chair.

Prof Milroy,  who also sat on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse,  led an impressive list of candidates said to have included former player, Che Cockatoo-Collins and former Indigenous Advisory Committee chair, Paul Briggs.  

The Commission is the principle governing body of the game. It guides the national and international direction of the league, setting policy and controlling funding for development of the code.  

The appointment is the result of a process lead by a subcommittee of the AFL Commission, which included all 18 of the AFL Club Presidents.

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