This BCEC report aims to build on the narrative of Indigenous peoples’ participation in football at a grass-roots level, and the associated individual and community level outcomes. It is based on analyses of data from the 2014-2015 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), supplemented by interviews with a number of stakeholders in West Australian communities.
The findings reveal the numerous benefits that participation in sport, and AFL in particular, bring to Indigenous Australians. Direct health benefits are apparent in both children and adults involved in AFL, with better mental and physical health outcomes compared to those who are not involved in sport.
What is also clear from the report findings is that AFL is an inclusive sport that offers wide accessibility irrespective of socio-economic background. The report also highlights the broader role AFL can play in a community, by being the conduit through which community programs targeted at health and safety can be delivered, and the means through which communities can be brought together.
Like all sports, problems do exist and the findings in this report offer an entry point through which we can begin to address these. There is enormous potential to widen the benefits of participation in AFL to Indigenous Australians though such programs and through the exciting emergence of the AFL Women’s League.