AFL boss Gillon McLachlan is commissioning an external, independent panel to review allegations by former Hawthorn players of racism detailed in an ABC report.
The football world was rocked on Wednesday when a report from the ABC revealed allegations of bullying of three Indigenous families at the Hawks during the reign of coach Alastair Clarkson.
One player alleged that Clarkson “demanded that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner”.
McLachlan said a four-person panel would be set up to investigate the “harrowing stories” and deliver “natural justice”.
“I want to say to the women and the partners and the players who have shared their stories, our first priority is to you and provide the care and support that you need,” McLachlan said. “It is important that we continue to communicate with you and to you.
“We are appointing an external, independent panel that will be made up of four people that will be led by an eminent King’s Counsel.
“We need to run a proper investigation to get to the bottom of it and this is important.
“We need to provide natural justice and allow that process to go on.”
McLachlan said he had not spoken to Clarkson or Brisbane coach Chris Fagan, who were the senior coaches at the Hawks during the time of the allegations.
He said the immediate futures of people involved would be made clear on Wednesday and it would be inappropriate to comment whether Clarkson or Fagan would be stood down.
“I’ve had conversations with clubs, and representatives of those accused and I feel the way they will be approaching this impending investigation will be made clear today. We are working with those clubs and I feel there will be clarity on that in the coming hours,” he said.
“I haven’t had those conversations in terms of alternate views, that will be the role of an independent panel that will give natural justice to those accused.
“There is more today that is not in the report and obviously, it is a tough read. It’s a confidential report. We don’t know who the complainants are. We don’t publicly disclose the investigations publicly until they’re complete.”
McLachlan said the AFL must get answers before even talking of a punishment for the accused.
“On face value, it’s hard to find more serious allegations,” he said.
“I think everyone would feel that it’s appropriate and fair that the accused have the right forum to respond.”