AFL staffer resigns after sexual harassment complaints

The Age, News 22/05/2017, picture by Justin McManus. Launch of the AFL Sir Douglas Nicholls Indigenous round at the statue of Sir Douglas Nicholls and wife Lady Gladys Nicholls. AFL General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch.

An AFL staff member has been forced to resign following a string of sexual harassment complaints.

It is understood the male staffer would drink at work functions and act inappropriately towards female colleagues.

He is believed to have been in a relatively junior role at AFL head office.

One complaint was made about his behaviour before other female staff members also came forward.

The league’s general manager of inclusion and social policy Tanya Hosch said the AFL strived to protect staff to the “highest possible standards.”

“The AFL continues to strive for the highest standards at all times,” Ms Hosch said. “Our organisation’s responsibility is to provide an environment that is inclusive and free from any form of discrimination.”

“We know that people reporting inappropriate behaviour with confidence that they will be taken seriously and responded to fairly and thoroughly is crucial to us meeting these standards.”

The latest incident follows a scandal-ridden year for the league after Richmond and the AFL suspended premiership defender Nathan Broad for the first three home-and-away games of the 2018 season as punishment for sharing a photo of a topless woman without her consent.

The incident prompted a police investigation, which was later dropped at the woman’s request.

Earlier in the year, the AFL was rocked by revelations that then football operations boss Simon Lethlean and then general manager of commercial Richard Simkiss had conducted “inappropriate” relationships with younger female staff members.

They resigned from their senior roles in July.

At the time, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan denied the league had a culture problem and said he had reached out to the two women involved.

“The AFL that I want to lead is a professional organisation based on integrity, respect, care for each other and responsibility,” McLachlan said.

“We are committed to a process of change and I am confident that change is being seen across the industry.”

After the Richmond topless photo scandal, Tigers president Peggy O’Neal said clubs were light years ahead of the AFL in enforcing the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy.

Since then the AFL has established an anonymous harassment complaints portal as part of a sweeping new set of guidelines aimed at protecting women.

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