Indigenous representation at executive level is decreasing in the AFLfalling from 87 in executive roles to 71 in just four years, according to latest figures.

Australian Football League (AFL) chief executive Andrew Dillon said the importance of having all people represented in the team and is aware of the decline but is not alarmed.

In conjunction with Reconciliation Australia, the AFL hosts two rounds dedicated to the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Indigenous woman and recipient of the Nanga Mai award and the Northern Beaches Young Person of the Year (2021), Steph Evans said the Indigenous rounds can be a “little bittersweet”.

“Sometimes they definitely come off as tokenistic, but it is a great way to get mob involved,” Ms Evans said.

It was during this match in 2013, a round of advocacy and justice for indigenous people that in 2016, ex-Sydney Swans player, Adnymathanaha and Narungga Man Adam Goodes was called a racial slur. 

Earlier that year, ‘National Vilification and Discrimination Policy,’ was introduced to the AFL in hopes of protecting all affiliated with the AFL from any discrimination or abuse. 

The policy outlines a chain of command to handle alleged assaults quicker and in a more dignified manner.

It was reviewed in 2021, implementing bans on any fans who have racially vilified players fromthree  years to a lifetime. 

AFL player and sports artist Cam Johnstone said while “steps are being taken” to improve representation, reconciliation is still a while away.

“I think that there is still a long way to go,” he said.

“The AFL has implemented plenty of things to raise awareness and recognise indigenous people, but we more so it becomes a natural part of our everyday life.” 

 ‘Now more than ever‘ is the theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week, a call for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. 

Ms Evans said while the focus on the Indigenous community only seems to fall over two weeks, she thinks it is a good way for mob to network.

“I think they are a great to be a mob and a great way to network. Just being in community,” Ms Evans said.

“Moving forward, they might pick up talent from their round, give more opportunities and that kind of thing.”

Reconciliation Australia said it encouraged Australians to call out racism whenever it is encountered and to actively enforce the voices of Aboriginal and Torres strait islander peoples across the continent.