AFL needs to be more proactive in treating women: expert

“And clubs have a duty of care to their players not to prejudice them and to support them without sending the message that this type of charge is trivial.”

The AFL has no formal stand-down threshold; instead, dealing with matters relating to alleged abuse of women on a case-by-case basis. The NRL introduced a no-fault stand-down clause for serious charges in 2019.

Lumby urged AFL leadership to take a more proactive approach, noting that if Thomas left North Melbourne, the program being run by the club – which club president Dr and public relations said – would end if action was taken.


“A unified approach at the AFL level is critical,” she said.

“That’s one of the things I realized when I first started working with the NRL, that there was a huge diversity in club cultures. And some of them, to be honest, were run by fools back then.”

Lumby said it is also crucial that any education and training programs offered to male players are based on good evidence.

“This is where the rubber really hits the road,” Lumby said.

“Are these programs that players relate to and engage with, and are they based on their lives and the situations they encounter?”

During his absence from the club, Thomas will continue to undergo a specially designed respectful behavior training and education program while the AFL continues to gather information about the allegations.

It is not expected that it will not be an overnight solution for Thomas, who was selected No. 8 in the 2018 national draft, coming to north Melbourne as a next-generation academy graduate from Tasmania. He signed a two-year contract extension in early 2022, tying him to the club until 2024.

Last year Thomas spent some time away from the club during the season as he mourned the loss of his grandmother. AFL needs to be more proactive in treating women: expert

Ryan Sederquist

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