Replacing AFL Indigenous boss will be 'hard', says club chief

Geelong president Colin Carter believes the departure of the AFL's leading Indigenous official will be hard to replace.

Jason Mifsud, who had been a key voice on Indigenous and multicultural affairs, has left to become the executive director of Aboriginal affairs in the Victorian office of premier and cabinet. The former St Kilda assistant coach, the son of a Maltese father and an Aboriginal mother, will remain on the AFL's Indigenous advisory committee.

Big loss: Jason Mifsud has left the AFL.
Big loss: Jason Mifsud has left the AFL. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

A tough player on the field, who often took a direct approach off it, Mifsud played the political game of football well.

"I think he will be very hard to replace because he has management skills and he can be hard nosed and soft hearted when he needs to be," Carter said.

"I think it's a great move for him personally."

Carter said the AFL would face a challenge in replacing Mifsud, who before joining the AFL had been an assistant to Grant Thomas at St Kilda and worked with Rodney Eade at the Western Bulldogs.


"I had a lot of confidence in him. I think the risk is they [AFL] might go a bit backwards. To have an Indigenous guy with the management skills he has – there aren't many around," Carter said.

The AFL said under Mifsud its Indigenous workforce had jumped from 0.7 per cent to 4 per cent since 2007, and football participation base from 3 per cent to 6 per cent. He had also helped to increase and maintain 10 per cent of AFL lists with players from Indigenous backgrounds and 15 per cent from multicultural backgrounds

However, there is work still to be done, with calls from Indigenous players to have an Indigenous liaison officer at each club.

"I think there will be increasing pressure on clubs to make sure there will be more Indigenous people appointed around the competition," Carter said.

"I think that's fair enough – there should be a bit more pressure on that. For that reason alone, I think the AFL will regret Jason going. He is an important part of that system."

A club-based report given to league chiefs last year found that while the attitudes of players have improved, there is still "a racism issue treading under the surface".