AFL Clubs Release Avalanche of Statements Calling for Australia Day Date Changethedigitalchaps


North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs called for a date change, while Port Adelaide said they respect everyone’s “right to choose” how they reflect on today.

Football and rugby clubs have joined Cricket Australia’s stance on Australia Day, coming out in force with statements, with some supporting a complete change of date for the national day.

As Australians celebrate a public holiday on Jan. 26 with citizenship ceremonies and barbecues, multiple clubs have weighed in on the debate with public statements.

North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, and the Western Bulldogs are among the Australian Football League (AFL) clubs calling for a date change.

North Melbourne Football Club’s board of directors, CEO, and senior leaders released a position on Australia Day following “extensive consultation with First Nations players and club staff.”

The statement, posted on X, Facebook, and Instagram, called for Australia Day to be celebrated on a “date that unites us.”

“We recognise the pain and sadness many First Nations Peoples and the broader community may be experiencing at this time,” North Melbourne Football Club said.

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“We will be stronger together when we can celebrate the history of the country we call home, on a date that unites us.”

The club switched off comments on the post to “ensure the conversation remains respectful.”

We Respect Everyone’s ‘Right to Choose’: Adelaide Football Club

The Adelaide Football Club stopped short of calling for a date change, respecting Australians’ right to choose how they reflect on the day.

However, the statement reflected on how Australia Day triggers “various emotions” and perspectives in the community, while also expressing “solidarity with First Nations peoples.”

“We also respect everyone’s right to choose how they reflect on today.”

The West Coast Eagles Club, based in Western Australia, recognised that “some will want to acknowledge and celebrate today (Australia Day, Jan. 26).”

However, the club said it understands for many First Nations people, it is a “divisive and distressing day that evokes pain, sorrow, and sadness.”

“As it has done in recent years at this time of the year, we encourage truth-telling, respectful discussion, deep listening, learning, and reflection. And we look forward to a future where everyone of all backgrounds and cultures can come together proudly to celebrate our nation’s shared history,” the club said.

The Western Bulldogs described Jan.26 as a “day of pain and sorrow” for First Nations People and released a video showing players calling for a date change.

Premiership player and Norm Smith medal winner Jason Johannisen, who was born in South Africa, said Australia Day should be celebrated on an alternative date.

“Personally I think just, obviously it’s amazing to be able to celebrate the life we live in Australia and how lucky we are,” he said.

“But yeah like for me it’s just ridiculous how it could be set on a date that has so much pain, emotional attachment to our indigenous people. So for me simply I just like to think why can’t we celebrate how good our lives are on a different date.”

Port Adelaide Calls for Date Change

The Port Adelaide Football Club blatantly came out saying they support changing the date of Australia Day in a statement.

The club switched off comments in the post, which said Jan. 26 represents a day of “immense sadness and sorrow for many in our community.”

The club reflected on the legacy of past and current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders players and the contribution of “First Nations staff, volunteers, and supporters.”

“The Port Adelaide Football Club respects that everyone has the right to their own views. The board, staff, and players of the Port Adelaide Football Club support changing the date,” the club said.

“We look forward to a time when all Australians can celebrate our nation on a day everyone can feel proud, included, and unified.”

Essendon Football Club strongly implied they would support a date change, saying they “look forward to a time where all Australians can celebrate our nation on a day that brings everyone together.”

“We stand united in our commitment to meaningful reconciliation and walk alongside First Nations peoples on the path to a unified Australia with justice and equity for all,” the club said.

The Collingwood Football Club did not specifically call for a date change, but put up a statement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, but not the Australian flag.

Darcy Moore of the Magpies leads his side up the race during the 2023 AFL Grand Final match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sept. 30, 2023. (Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Darcy Moore of the Magpies leads his side up the race during the 2023 AFL Grand Final match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sept. 30, 2023. (Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
“To our First Nations players, staff, supporters, and their families and friends, we stand side by side with you on January 26 and understand the feelings which come with this date for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities across the country,” the statement said.

“At Collingwood, we remain committed to a journey of reconciliation through continuous learning, deep listening, and action.”

Multiple individuals responded to the post asking where the Australia Day flag was, with one user saying, “No Aussie flag on Australia Day?”

Hawthorn Football Club also put out a statement expressing they were committed to reconciliation, noting Australia Day evokes “many different emotions and perspectives.”
Geelong created a “First Nations Hub” ahead of Australia Day, stating “We stand in solidarity with First Nations peoples. The club said they are committed to moving forward ” on a date that represents all Australians.

Carlton and Melbourne both reflected on First Nations people and called for reconciliation in statements on social media. However, they did not call for a date change.

The St Kilda Football Club also took to social media with a video calling for reconciliation, including one player stating “For indigenous Australians, January 26 is a day of mourning, not celebration.”

Players and staff of the Fremantle Football Club participated in information sessions at the Club during the week engaging on the implications of Australia Day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Players and staff were given the choice to work in exchange for an “alternate” day of leave.

The Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, Greater Western Sydney Giants, Sydney Swans, and Richmond Football Club had not released a public statement on Jan. 26 at the time of writing.

Australia Day citizenship ceremonies, concerts, cultural ceremonies, barbecues, and “Invasion Day” rallies are among the events taking place on Jan. 26.