Sport vs institutional racism: Josephine Sukkar at the Dungala Kaiela Oration

Dungala Kaiela Oration Indigenous artwork
Chair of the Australian Sports Commission, Josephine Sukkar AM will reflect on the power of Australian sport to combat racism when delivering the Dungala Kaiela Oration.

Josephine Sukkar AM will reflect on the power of Australian sport to harness the passion of Australians in combatting racism, when she delivers the 13th annual Dungala Kaiela Oration on Wednesday 29 September.

As the chair of the Australian Sports Commission, Ms Sukkar holds one of the country’s most influential positions in shaping the culture of Australian sport, with oversight of Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport – from grassroots organisations to the elite. She is also president of Australian Women’s Rugby and co-founder and principal of construction company Buildcorp.

Co-hosted by the Kaiela Institute and the University of Melbourne, the Dungala Kaiela ‘Defining Goulburn Murray’ Oration challenges and inspires the region to create a shared cultural identity, promoting Indigenous development and building an inclusive vision for the region’s peoples.

Ms Sukkar’s oration “Racism in sport: So where to from here?” will highlight the need for a national strategic approach to tackling the issue of systemic institutional racism.

She will explore the willingness and ability within peak sporting codes to adopt unifying standards across all forms and codes of sport to become a cornerstone in tackling the problem, to create a healthy, vibrant nation in which everyone can contribute and find success.

Following the Oration, AFL Chief Executive Officer Gill McLachlan will provide a response.

Traditionally the evening is co-hosted by the Kaiela Institute and the University at the Rumbalara Football Netball Club in Shepparton on Yorta Yorta country, however due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s event will be broadcast online.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, said the event was a recognition of the University’s ongoing commitment and partnership with the Kaiela Institute and to the Shepparton community and Goulburn Valley region.

“The Dungala Kaiela Oration is a wonderful occasion, and while we are once again unable to attend face-to-face this year, I’m excited to hear from Ms Sukkar from home,” Professor Maskell said.

“Now more than ever we need to confront the insidious, pernicious and utterly unacceptable issue of racism, and act to get rid of it from our society. The virtual Oration will mean more people across the country – both First Nations and non-First Nations people – can access and be inspired by Ms Sukkar’s words.”

Kaiela Institute Executive Director and Paul Briggs said the Yorta Yorta people had taken a leading position in the Murray Goulburn region and nationally to achieve the goal of eradicating institutional racism.

“National, regional and local sporting infrastructure has a powerful role to play in harnessing and channelling the passion of the Australian people,” Mr Briggs said.

“I welcome this important contribution from Ms Sukkar and look forward to working with the Australian Sports Commission and all other major sporting institutions and codes, in acknowledging and strategising for the removal of institutional racism in the sports industry as a critical step towards increased inclusion, value and respect within the infrastructure of sport in Australia.

“The 11-year runway to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics provides a unique opportunity to showcase to the world what can be achieved when the major institutions of sport come together to draw a line in the sand to end racism in sport, while at the same time inspiring First Nations and regional athletes to excel.”

The 2021 Dungala Kaiela Oration will be broadcast at 6pm, Wednesday 29 September.

Register for the event here.