Inclusion Match Success

On the 18th of August the Hawthorn Football Club celebrated its first ever Inclusion Match. The match has been designed to make the football a safe, supportive and fun environment for a broader cross-section of society.

According to CEO Justin Reeves, the match aimed to be a continuation of the hard work Hawthorn has been doing in the social inclusion space over the last two years.

“We want everyone to feel safe and included when they head out to watch the football,” Reeves said.

“We recognise that these types of public events can present difficulties for many people, particularly those living with a disability, so we’re working to create a more accessible and inclusive environment.

“As a club, we have a responsibility to ensure every member of the Hawthorn family feels valued, respected and included.

“We’ve made some great strides in the last 24 months, particularly with regards to our AFL Blind and wheelchair teams, but there’s still work to be done in this space and we’re committed to our pursuit of social inclusion.”

The key message of the day was:

The celebration began with the club's AFL Blind and AFL Wheelchair competitors forming the guard of honour and welcoming the Hawks as they entered the field. They all loved this opportunity, commenting that the roar of the crowd was amazing and something they will never forget.

The aim was to make the game more accessible for all, across every aspect of the match day, including utilising the services of an interpreter from The Auslan Company. This was the first time that a deaf interpreter has been used at an AFL match through an interpreter relay, creating more job opportunities for people in the community.

Once again, the Afford Sensory Friendly Space was a great success that allowed families to step away from the intensity of the crowd whilst still being able to enjoy the game.

The Deakin University initiative, Allplay Dance Group, performed a ballet piece on the ground at three quarter time. The purpose of this group is to create new pathways for inclusion for children with physical disabilities and developmental challenges so they can dance, learn and make connections in the community. Dance provides a unique way to honour and embrace different ways of moving and celebrates our differences to create a great inclusive space.

All of Hawthorn’s inclusion programs are made possible by the wonderful support of Afford.

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