Jarring image caught in AFL's 'sexual harassment' storm

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Georgie Parker, pictured here grabbing Kathryn Slattery’s behind in 2017.
Georgie Parker was seen grabbing Kathryn Slattery’s behind in 2017. Image: Georgie Parker/Facebook

Many fans have pointed out in recent days that no one seemed to have a problem when Georgie Parker was spotted grabbing the backside of Hockeyroos teammate Kathryn Slattery in 2017.

Nearly every social media post about the groping controversy engulfing the AFL in recent days seems to contain at least one mention about Parker and Slattery and a screenshot of the image.

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Former hockey and AFLW star Parker still has the famous image as her cover photo on Facebook, proudly displaying it for all to see.

The AFL has been forced to seek advice from Australia's sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins following a series of “inappropriate” groping incidents between players.

All 18 clubs will be briefed this week after post-game footage from Richmond and St Kilda’s rooms came to light, forcing both teams and the players involved to apologise for the behaviour.

Usman Khawaja, pictured here grabbing Adam Zampa's backside in 2018.
Usman Khawaja grabbed Adam Zampa's backside in 2018. Image: Fox Sports

Similar to the Parker incident, no one took offence when Usman Khawaja grabbed Adam Zampa’s behind before a one-day international against New Zealand in 2018.

“It was all consensual. Just having a joke with the debutant,” Khawaja said.

At the time, sport psychologist Gary Hermansson told stuff.co.nz it was “important not to sexualise the ritual” of teammates grabbing each other’s behinds.

“In the sporting environment it’s a piece of behaviour that’s normalised and only sexualised if you impose something on it,” he said.

“It’s a way of belonging. It’s always been there, it always will be probably because that’s the nature of athletes.”

AFL brings in sex discrimination commissioner

But times have changed and it should be pointed out that the AFL incidents were a bit more than just backside grabbing.

Tigers players Nick Vlastuin and Jayden Short were caught on camera inappropriately touching teammate Mabior Chol, as was Saints forward Dan Butler with Jade Gresham.

After releasing a brief statement last Friday labelling the incidents as “juvenile”, the AFL has gone a step further by talking to Jenkins and Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said issues surrounding respect and appropriate conduct will be addressed with club chief executives, coaches and football managers.

“We condemn the behaviour and need to learn from what happened,” McLachlan said.

“Where we fall below the standards expected of us, we need to acknowledge that and take the appropriate steps to learn and improve.

Nick Vlastuin and Jayden Short, pictured here grabbing Richmond teammate Mabior Chol.
Nick Vlastuin and Jayden Short were seen grabbing Richmond teammate Mabior Chol. Image: Channel Ten

“The AFL and our clubs have made a strong commitment to gender equality and respect and responsibility.

“As part of this ongoing cultural change in our industry we need to ensure inappropriate conduct is not acceptable, whether it is the office or the changeroom.

“What we saw in recent times with players from a number of clubs touching each other inappropriately is clearly not the standard of high performance in the workplace that we could - or should - accept.”

Jenkins, a former Carlton board member, drove the creation of the AFL's respect and responsibility policy in 2017.

McLachlan said the AFL was committed to developing an educational program around sexual harassment at the end of the season.

“We already have policies in place but where there is scope to improve them, we will improve them,” McLachlan said.

with AAP