There was uproar this week as news broke that the AFL would drop the Aboriginal flag from it's Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round and overnight that uproar turned into action, with several AFL clubs joining the chorus of those who want to 'free the flag'.
The decision by the AFL to not use the flag and instead replace its image with the word 'Deadly' initially raised some eyebrows but overnight several AFL clubs joined a campaign to reset the licensing agreement around the use of the Koori flag.
AFL’s head of inclusion and social policy Tanya Hosch said the decision to drop the flag was not easy and was considered by the AFL’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council for months.
“An organisation like the AFL may well be able to accommodate a licensing agreement, but it could further disenfranchise those people who are not in the same position,” she said.
Ms Hosch said the decision to leave the flag out of the round would disappoint those who look forward to seeing it in the centre circle every year, but added that all was not lost.
“We’ve got so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on the ground, we’ll still continue to have Welcome to Countries and cultural ceremonies…people will still see Aboriginal culture displayed.”
Essendon Bombers legend Michael Long commended the AFL for its position.
"It's symbolic to our people. There's a lot of people who have given rise to that flag, even Elders who aren't with us today," he said.
"I commend the AFL for what they have done, not entering into something with the flag this weekend."
Speaking to the ABC yesterday, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said he was disappointed the flag would not be on display and said he is exploring what options are available to resolve the situation.
Mr Wyatt also acknowledged the position of the flag’s creator and intellectual property owner Harold Thomas, and his right to use the intellectual rights however he wished.
Mr Wyatt said he has had discussions with Mr Thomas in regard to reaching an agreement on using the flag.
“I won't disclose the detail of those [discussions] ... I'm very cognisant of IP and I'm working with my agency in looking for a way forward that does not breach the individual ownership of the product by any Australian.”
On Friday, Labor MP Linda Burney also weighed in and called on the federal government to resolve the situation in regards to the intellectual property of the flag as soon as possible.
Ms Burney took to Twitter to describe the flag debacle as absurd.
“This is a national flag and the Government has to make sure that it is freely available to all Australians. The Government has the power and the resources to fix this,” the shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister said.
Olympian Nova Peris has been prominent in the ‘Free the Flag’ campaign.
Earlier this week, Ms Peris alleged that WAM Clothing had issued a cease and desist letter to the AFL, informing the organisation that it did not have the right to feature the flag on playing fields, clothing or merchandise.
The social media campaign has gained massive traction this week and an online petition supporting the call has garnered over 100,000 signatures.