The AFL and Australia Post today announced 10 AFL players as this year’s Multicultural Ambassadors as part of the Australia Post Community Inclusion Partnership.
As Multicultural Ambassadors, Nic Natanui, Leigh Montagna, Bachar Houli, Joel Wilkinson, David Rodan, Harry O’Brien, Israel Folau, Karmichael Hunt, Majak Daw and Ahmed Saad represent some of the many diverse backgrounds in football and will encourage individuals and groups to unite through their love of the game.
Speaking at the launch today, AFL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Demetriou said the AFL was proud to partner with Australia Post, an organisation which also values the importance of connecting people and communities, including multicultural communities.
“It is critical our game responds to, and reflects Australia’s changing demographics. Australian football has the extraordinary power to bring people together regardless of their background and we respect this position enormously.”
“We’re genuinely excited to provide 10 players with the opportunity to become leaders in the community, promoting the benefits of inclusion and diversity. Equally, I’m sure the AFL industry will benefit enormously from the insights and cultural guidance these players will provide,” said Mr Demetriou.
Australia Post Managing Director and CEO Ahmed Fahour said the Multicultural Ambassadors were a valuable part of the partnership, which will help strengthen bonds formed in local communities.
“I’m excited by the opportunities that we have to enrich the lives of individuals and communities right across Australia, by using footy as a vehicle for social inclusion. “With 140 nationalities and 70 different languages, our people truly reflect the rich diversity of the community we serve.
“This partnership combines the nationwide accessibility of Australia Post’s networks and our passion for diversity with the AFL’s extraordinary capacity to bring people together,” said Mr Fahour.
Throughout the year, the Multicultural Ambassadors will work with local groups towards uniting individuals and communities across the country.
Information about AFL/Australia Post Multicultural Ambassadors
· Nic Naitanui (Fijian) will work one day per week at the Western Australian Football Commission, supporting the ongoing development of the WA multicultural strategy, talent academy and international development.
· Leigh Montagna (Italian) will work one day per week at AFL House, focusing on multicultural, social and ethnic media strategies and other major events.
· Bachar Houli (Lebanese Muslim) will work one day per week developing an Islamic schools program in Victoria, NSW and WA, which aims to engage more than 30,000 students.
· Joel Wilkinson (Nigerian) will work one day per week with AFL Queensland focusing on the development of a community club cultural development program.
· David Rodan (Fijian) will work one day per week with the SANFL supporting the ongoing development of the SA multicultural strategy, talent academy and international scholarship program.
· Harry O’Brien (Brazilian), Israel Folau (Tongan), Karmichael Hunt (Cook Island/Samoan), Majak Daw (Sudanese) and Ahmed Saad (Egyptian Muslim) will support and perform ambassadorial roles across AFL programs.
The AFL’s Multicultural Program
Since the AFL’s Multicultural Program began in 2005, it has enabled more than 20,000 people from migrant families to experience an AFL game or be introduced to their own local football communities.
The AFL Multicultural Schools Program has been implemented in more than 180 schools and 30 English Language centres, while 25 staff are employed to facilitate multicultural programs nationally.
AFL Multicultural Round will be held again this year in Round 14 of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season. With the support of Australia Post, the round will celebrate ‘Many Cultures. One Game’ and will highlight the community engagement initiatives currently being undertaken by the Australian football industry, as well as the many players from culturally diverse backgrounds, who make up 10 per cent of the AFL player list.
Australia Post Community Inclusion Program
In addition to the ambassadors program, the Australia Post Community Inclusion Program includes:
Australia Post Multicultural Schools Cup
The AFL will hold the Australia Post Multicultural Schools Cup, where students from more than 300 primary schools will participate in state-based football carnivals. As part of this program Multicultural Ambassadors will talk to students about the importance of diversity and working together, regardless of backgrounds and beliefs.
Schools Letter Writing Program
The AFL and Australia Post will work with schools across Australia to develop students’ literacy through letter writing, with a particular focus on students from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Australia Post AFL Community Camps
Held throughout February, AFL teams visited local communities to promote social inclusion through participation in football, conducted training sessions and visited schools, nursing homes and hospitals.