'Kick in the guts': Buddy Franklin in Aboriginal Flag controversy

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter
Nova Peris (pictured right) has hit out at Lance Franklin (pictured left) for his association with clothing company WAM Clothing. (Getty Images)

Australia’s first Indigenous gold medalist Nova Peris has claimed Sydney Swans star Buddy Franklin’s association with a company that profits off of the use of the Aboriginal Flag is a ‘kick in the guts’.

Peris - who won gold in the 1996 Olympics for the Australian hockey team - is part of the ‘Free the flag’ campaign, which aims to stop WAM Clothing profiting off the use of the Aboriginal Flag.

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WAM Clothing owns the rights to produce the flag on clothing, after an agreement with the flag’s copyright owner Harold Thomas, and Indigenous AFL star Franklin uses the clothing manufacturer to sell goods via his website.

A spokesperson for Franklin told The Age he followed the law and “we did what was legally right,” and he was proud of his heritage.

However, Peris has taken aim at Franklin claiming he is going against everything the movement has strived to achieve.

"I've never met [Franklin]. But this is why we're upset. Everything we've been fighting for, for the past 18 months, for him to go and do what he's doing is a kick in the guts for all of us," Peris told The Age.

"That's what we're angry about. If you want to be a leader for our mob, then do right by our mob.

"It was Aboriginal people that gave rise to the flag. We gave it the value. That's why we're angry at WAM, who's profiting off the value of that flag."

Thomas designed the Aboriginal flag in 1971 and it was officially recognised as a flag of Australia in 1995.

Nova Peris wearing the 'Free the Flag' t-shirt. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

WAM Clothing’s website claims it is the ‘exclusive worldwide copyright licensee’ for a range of clothing bearing the Aboriginal Flag.

The website claims Thomas, the designer, is paid royalties on every item sold.

Clothing the Gap, running the Free the Flag movement, says it is an Aboriginal owned and led social enterprise and fashion label that is based in Preston.

On their website, Clothing the Gap claims they were served a 'Cease and Desist' from WAM Clothing for celebrating the flag on some of their items.

Clothing the Gap have been lobbing to the government and relevant bodies claiming there should viable channels for new licensing agreements for the flag.

Franklin’s Black Lives Matter support

Last week, Franklin threw his support behind the Black Lives Matter movement and raised the issue Indigenous Australians were also suffering on home soil.

Swans star Franklin highlighted the injustices happening to Indigenous Australians on our own soil following the protests in the US.

“Justice for all. What’s happening in the US is happening on our own soil and all around the world,”he wrote.

“Thoughts and prayers are with George Floyd’s family and all affected by this tragedy and the tragedies before his murder.”