What do you do?
I lead the strategic development of the game with indigenous and multicultural communities, which currently represent 24 per cent of AFL lists. This also includes collaborating with corporate Australia and governments to leverage the game and deliver social value throughout our culturally diverse communities.
In the past 10 years, you have held a number of professional coaching roles within the AFL. How does sports coaching compare with traditional workplace coaching, and what do you think other industries can learn from coaching methods in sport?
I have spent my career applying the principles of sports coaching to the workplace and, likewise, workplace disciplines to my sports coaching. The transferability is extraordinary. Ultimately, morale is the core of any team’s unity. If you don’t believe in each other, it’s harder to believe in where you are going.
You come from a cross-cultural background. How have your personal experiences helped shape your work?
As the proud son of an Aboriginal mother (Gunditjmara) and Maltese father (migrated in 1970) I enjoy the cultural richness and vibrancy of both backgrounds; the customs, traditions and histories. Unfortunately, I have also seen and felt the effects and impact of racism. One vehicle that has built understanding, respect and celebration is sport – something that has been a driving influence in my life. Coupled together, sport and community has been a constant source of opportunity, motivation and inspiration for me.
In your opinion, what is the biggest hurdle that Australia needs to overcome before we can eradicate racism – not just out on the field, but also in the workplace?
Understanding, acknowledgement and respect. We are all blinded by our own prejudices, which are informed by our experiences and influences. If these experiences and influences have been narrow to cultural diversity, it is understandable that constant racial behaviours get played out in any environment.