League must ‘get better’ on treatment of women, staffers: AFL chairman

The AFL has vowed to “get better” in the treatment of employees and implicitly women, with the league’s chairman Richard Goyder telling club bosses that the AFL is looking at ways that staff can safely share their experiences.

In a clear signal that the AFL recognises the grievances of some past employees who signed confidential settlements, Goyder has told the 18 club presidents or chairs that the issue of “separation agreements needs to be addressed”.

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder.Credit:Getty Images

“I know everyone shares the same desire to get better. I encourage all 18 clubs to join us to be the best that we can,” the AFL chairman wrote to the club presidents. He had raised the issue “regarding experiences of a number of past AFL employees”.

He wrote that it was important for the AFL and clubs to continue to listen to the experiences of people.

The longstanding use of non-disclosure agreements in allegedly silencing staff and dealing with complaints – mainly at AFL headquarters, over a number of years – was outlined in an article in The Australian last week.

Goyder’s intervention in the issue of women in the workplace is significant, given that he is the chairman of the AFL’s governing board. Goyder, also the chairman of Qantas and Woodside, places enormous trust in his chief executive, Gillon McLachlan.

Goyder also wrote that the AFL had “come a long way” in terms of treatment of staff. It is clear to some familiar with the letter that this was largely focused on the issue of women employed within the AFL, even though some of the aggrieved employees – including a staffer who received a significant settlement – were also male.

Goyder said in the letter that the AFL was seeking ways to provide support for former employees and to ease their transmission from the organisation.

Goyder also addressed with presidents the issue of the competition’s challenge in dealing with the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria.

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