Football Australia announces establishment of National Indigenous Advisory Group

  • National Indigenous Advisory Group will consist of nine (9) First Nations members

  • Members of NIAG have experiences through professional and grassroots football, media, academia and government

Football Australia has today announced the formation of its National Indigenous Advisory Group who will bring a breadth and depth of knowledge and insight into the current and emerging goals of the Indigenous community across Australia.

A key advisory body for Football Australia, the National Indigenous Advisory Group comprises of nine (9) First Nations community members from diverse cultures, experiences, and intersectionality, who are driving change in a variety of areas; professional and grassroots football, media, academia, and government.

As part of the launch, Football Australia announced the members will include Kenny Bedford, Frank Farina OAM, Selina Holtze, Narelda Jacobs, Professor John Maynard, Doctor Karen Menzies, Jade North, Tanya Oxtoby and Kyah Simon. 

A Biripi man and former Socceroos defender, Jade North believes the Advisory Group is an important continuation of football’s connection and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Australia.   

Football is all about unity, diversity and equity and I believe it is important that First Nations people voices are part of the football conversation,” said North. 

“I have seen an increasing connection with First Nations people and football over the past few years.  In some of the tournaments I have been to I see a lot of passion, I see a lot of skill, I see a lot of desire, and everyone is proud of their mob and where they are from. 

“What I would love to see over the next couple of decades for our First Nations people is having a big representation of Indigenous people, in various roles, at all levels of the national teams and domestically.  I would also love to see Indigenous culture deeply intertwined with Australian football, driving the respect and celebration of one of the oldest and continuing culture in the world.”

Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, said that the establishment of the National Indigenous Advisory Group is another step in Football Australia’s journey to connect authentically with football's Indigenous heritage and future. 

This is a momentous day for football in Australia.  The National Indigenous Advisory Group will bring to the forefront the voices, lived experience and rich knowledge that can only come from First Nations people,” said Johnson. 

“Our Indigenous heritage is a critical component of Australian football’s identity and story.  First Nations participation and elite representation within football dates to the 1930’s with pioneering names such as Charlie Perkins, Harry Williams, Karen Menzies and John Moriarty.  To provide the opportunity for the next generation to continue in this tradition and to strengthen Indigenous participation at all levels of the game, we need to create stronger pathways and ensure we foster an environment that welcomes and embraces.

“The collective leadership of the group will play an integral role in guiding Football Australian as we take important steps towards becoming a leader in our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Anaiwan and Biripi woman and Commonwealth Bank Matildas forward, Kyah Simon said that the embrace of First Nations people in football will be beneficial for all.   

I think it is important to have First Nations voices in football as Indigenous peoples have a lot to offer the game,” said Simon. 

“The future for football for our First Nations people is bright, exciting and I can’t wait to see down the track what investment, time and opportunity in our people will give us. 

“I would love to see the opportunities I have had in football provided to others across the game.  I am proud to be part of a collective group that can assist in the elevation of their voices and help build strategies and processes to engage more First Nations people in our game.”

Football Australia’s National Indigenous Advisory Group will focus on:

  • Supporting the ongoing cultural safety for football’s Indigenous participants to assist in retaining First Nations players, coaches, support staff, administrators, and in governance.
  • Evaluation and advice on football pathways and programs designed to drive social outcomes.
  • Guidance on future strategic partnerships and employment strategies.
  • Promotion of reconciliation through the ongoing engagement and shared development of Football Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan. 

Jade North will co-chair the Advisory Group alongside Football Australia’s Head of Women's Football, Women's World Cup Legacy & Inclusion, Sarah Walsh.

National Indigenous Advisory Group Members

  • Kenny Bedford – Traditional Owner from the Meuram clan of Erub (located in the Torres Strait Islands).  Member of the Torres Strait Regional Authority.  Board Member of Reconciliation Australia.
  • Frank Farina OAM – Torres Strait Islander.  Socceroos cap #329.  Indigenous captain of the Socceroos.  Olympian.  Football coach and educator. 
  • Selina Holtze – Gurindji, Jingili (NT) and Yawuru (WA).  Football Northern Territory Board Member.  Government relations, governance, and community engagement.
  • Narelda Jacobs – Whadjuk Noongar.  Welcome to Country Board Member.  Ambassador for WA Aboriginal Leadership Institute, The Pinnacle Foundation, and the Disability Services Commission.  Well respected presenter on Channel 10 and NITV. 
  • Professor John Maynard – Worimi.  Esteemed academic. Chair of Aboriginal History at the University of Newcastle.  Director of the Purai Global Indigenous History Centre. Executive Committee of the Australian Historical Association.
  • Doctor Karen Menzies – Wonnarua.  Matildas cap #30. First Indigenous woman to play for the Australian Women’s National Team.  Esteemed academic.  Lecturer, Discipline of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Senior Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Child Protection.
  • Jade North (co-chair) – Biripi.  Socceroo cap #466.  Indigenous captain of the Socceroos.  Olympian.  Founding Director of Kickin with a Cuz Indigenous football program.  Ambassador of Mental Health Awareness Foundation. 
  • Tanya Oxtoby – Yamaji. Football coach and educator. UEFA A licence coach.  Qualified sports psychologist. First Indigenous captain of a W-League side (Perth Glory).
  • Kyah Simon – Anaiwan and Biripi.  Current Commonwealth Bank Matilda cap #157.  Olympian.  First Indigenous footballer to score at FIFA World Cup.  Founding Director of Kyah Simon Football Clinics. 
  • Sarah Walsh (co-chair) – Football Australia Head of Women's Football, Women's World Cup Legacy & Inclusion. Matildas cap #125.
  • Courtney Hagen (secretariat) – Butchulla and Gubbi Gubbi.  Football Australia Engagement Lead, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.