AFL and eSafety commit to #PlayitFairOnline

The AFL has signed a new agreement with Australia’s eSafety Commissioner to help improve online safety for AFL players, fans and the broader community and raise awareness of the steps Australians can take to #PlayItFairOnline.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will see the eSafety Commissioner provide online safety training to the AFL and its clubs and advice on best practice approaches to keeping people safe online.

The agreement strengthens the AFL’s ongoing partnership with the eSafety Commissioner and will support the AFL in continuing to promote online safety through its channels and staying up to date with latest developments in the industry.

AFL Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch, and eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, will formally recognise the partnership during the Round 19 Toyota AFL Premiership Season match between Richmond and Fremantle on Wurundjeri Country at Marvel Stadium on July 22. 

The MOU follows a significant increase in complaints to eSafety about all types of online abuse in Australia over the past two years. Complaints about adult cyber abuse rose by 93 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019, while child cyberbullying reports increased by 69 per cent. 

Watch the #PlayItFairOnline video from the AFL and eSafety and hear from some of the biggest names in the AFL about how to stay safe online, be an upstander and report abuse.

AFL and eSafety partner to tackle online abuse

Watch the #PlayItFairOnline video from the AFL and eSafety and hear from some of the biggest names in the AFL about how to stay safe online, be an upstander and report abuse.

AFL Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch said the ongoing use of social media platforms as a tool for abuse, hate, and discrimination online, particularly targeting players, umpires and staff in our game is disgraceful.   

“The AFL wants all players, staff, fans, and footy families from the grassroots to the elite level to be safe in the AFL environment, and that includes online,” Ms. Hosch said.

“AFL and AFLW players have too often been the targets of racist, sexist, homophobic and other forms of online abuse, including some of the biggest stars in our game. This has no place in our game. 

“Online abuse is harmful and can seriously impact the wellbeing and mental health of individuals, families and communities, so we take seriously, our responsibility and opportunity to strengthen and enhance our partnership with eSafety and stand together to say this is never ok.”

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the long-term partnership with the AFL promised to be a game-changer for players, clubs and fans.

“Increasingly, we’re finding the cheapest seats in the house are behind a keyboard: as the game has moved online, it’s unleashed a torrent of abuse which can be very personal and unrelenting,” Ms. Inman Grant said.

“Through this partnership, eSafety and the AFL are taking a united stance against online abuse and saying, ‘enough is enough’. Hate speech and harmful personal attacks have no place in sport or any other arena.

“When you see abuse online, whether it’s targeting players, umpires, staff or fans, we need everyone in the AFL community to stand up and send a message that it won’t be tolerated. Individuals who are targeted by serious online abuse or cyberbullying can also report it to us at esafety.gov.au so we can help get the content taken down.” 

As part of the agreement, the AFL will continue to support eSafety’s #PlayitFairOnline campaign to help educate fans on how they can combat online abuse and protect themselves and others online. 

With the support of a number of elite AFL and AFLW players, the campaign provides a set of easy-to-follow guidelines to encourage Australians to be respectful online, be upstanding online citizens, and think about how their actions can affect others.

For more advice on staying safe online and information on how to report serious online abuse, visit esafety.gov.au

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