Today, the Collingwood Football Club’s CFC DO BETTER REPORT was released.

The CFC DO BETTER REPORT is an independent review that challenges Collingwood to take a leadership position in Australian sport by confronting racism.

It also urges Collingwood to use its past to inform its future and to drive change in our game and, more broadly, our nation.

These challenges Collingwood accepts without qualification.

The club has adopted all 18 recommendations in the CFC DO BETTER REPORT and has begun the process of implementing them.

The recommendations include:

  • That the concepts of anti-racism and inclusion be integrated into the club’s values
  • The development of a framework for responding to incidents of racism that reflects its values in a way that is pro-active, not reactive.
  • The establishment of an expert group on anti-racism to advise and oversee policy creation and implementation
  • The sharing of insights by the expert group with the AFL community and Australian sport more generally.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said:

“The board of the Collingwood Football club commissioned the CFC DO BETTER REPORT for the right reasons. We can learn from our past. Collingwood is, and will continue to be, a wonderful club but this should not stop us from striving to be better.

“The CFC DO BETTER REPORT is an acknowledgement that our club, our game and our country have got things wrong. For our part, we have always sought to do our best but looking back we now know that wasn’t always good enough. For that, we are sorry and pledge to do better.”

The CFC DO BETTER REPORT found that Collingwood has at times been unable to recognise and, therefore, combat structural racism despite the best of intentions and many fine people working in Collingwood’s name.

It is acknowledged that Collingwood has evolved considerably across recent decades and years but that it has preferred until recently to treat racist episodes as isolated incidents instead of improving policies and procedures to combat racism.

“We support and endorse the recommendations in the report and commit to addressing the systemic issues – that is the lack of sufficient organisational capacity and procedures - raised in the report. These will be addressed as a matter of urgency,” Collingwood chief executive, Mark Anderson, said.

“With the guidance of the CFC DO BETTER REPORT and our determination to lead, Collingwood commits to strengthening its capacity to not only condemn racism but actively fight it.” 

The CFC DO BETTER REPORT commends Collingwood for its commitment to improvement. It notes:

“The fact that the Collingwood Football Club…..commissioned an independent review of its processes of dealing with racism reflects the realisation from within the club that something fundamental needs to change.

“It needs to be noted and underlined that, in undertaking this review, the club was unflinching in holding up a mirror to itself. It was a brave first step that few would have the courage to take and shows the seriousness with which the club takes the issue.

“The attitude of certain individuals — that acknowledgement and learning from the past is a positive thing — needs to be adopted by the club as a whole. This must be accompanied by actions that seek to make amends and atone for past failures.

 “In the discussion had as part of this review, there was a genuine acknowledgement of past failures and a strong desire to do better. People external to the club noted that it was made up of great people. However, good intentions on and off the field don’t have any significant meaning unless they are embraced and implemented.”

It conclusion, the report adds:

“If there was one thing that united almost every person we spoke to in this review, it was their commitment to the Collingwood Football Club and their desire to see it be the best version of itself. This review seeks to help CFC meet that aim.”

The CFC DO BETTER REPORT makes clear that, at times, Collingwood was unable to understand the experience of Indigenous players or players of colour. That at times it could not see and hear what they saw and heard.

Allegations levelled at Collingwood by former player Heritier Lumumba were not addressed by Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt and her team, the authors of the CFC DO BETTER REPORT.

Without Heritier’s co-operation it was their view that his claims could not be fully explored or tested.

Peter Murphy, club director and chair of the Collingwood Integrity Committee which commissioned Professor Behrendt to conduct the independent review, described the CFC DO BETTER REPORT as a “sobering document that has compelled Collingwood to strengthen its stand against racism.

“We are a club that has always sought to be guided by values of equality, inclusion, tolerance and respect but we must continue to live up to those values,” Murphy said.

Jodie Sizer, fellow director and member of the Collingwood Integrity Committee, added:

“Racism and how we respond to it, when it occurs, is one of the most significant and prevalent challenges of our time. There is a not a work place in the country, let alone a sporting club, that should not be having this conversation and often, in fact almost always, these conversations are difficult.

“Our ambition is to lead by example. To do this, we need to listen, learn and then act. Larissa and her team consulted widely with past and present Collingwood staff, players and officials and sought information from people not of Collingwood.

“This consultative, truth telling exercise and the CFC DO BETTER REPORT that has come from it puts Collingwood in possession of an opportunity to reshape its future as a leader in Australian sport.

“As the CFC DO BETTER REPORT says: now is the time for Collingwood to meet the moment.”

Background:

Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt:

A Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology, Sydney.

A barrister, researcher, writer and filmmaker, Professor Behrendt AO is a member of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and a founding member of the Australian Academy of Law. She chaired the federal government’s major review into Indigenous higher education in 2011.

Her written works range from Indigenous legal issues to fiction, for which she has won several awards. She is host of the Speaking Out program on the ABC and an award-winning documentary film director with a focus on telling the stories of Indigenous Australians.

In 2009, Professor Behrendt was named NAIDOC Person of the Year and in 2020 was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her service to the law, Indigenous education and the arts.

The Collingwood Integrity Committee:

Peter Murphy (chair):

Founder of Pan Australia Group, Chair of Global Citizen and a trustee and Chair of the Collingwood Football Club Foundation. Co-chair House of Mandela Freedom project.

Jodie Sizer:

Jodie is a Djap Wurrung /Gunditjmara woman, and part of the Framlingham Community of South West Victoria. She is a Co-Founder and Co-CEO of PwC’s Indigenous Consulting (PIC).  

Jodie is the Chairperson of the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, sits on the Board of Collingwood Football Club and the Ebony Institute.  She is a member of the Victorian Women’s Hall of Fame, noted as one of the AFR 100 women of influence and was the inaugural Dardi Indigenous Business Leadership Award recipient in Victoria. Jodie was named as Victorian Aboriginal Young Achiever in 2000, when she was working as an auditor at a big four accounting firm and has maintained a prominent role in the Indigenous space and across broader society.

Mark Anderson:

Collingwood FC chief executive officer. Formerly ceo of Swimming Australia and ceo of Hockey Australia.

Please follow the link to view the full report here.