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Players unite behind Free The Flag campaign

The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) has thrown its support behind the ‘Free The Flag’ campaign, lobbying for the Aboriginal Flag to be celebrated, shared and worn freely as part of a movement from Clothing The Gap.

The Aboriginal Flag was proclaimed as a National Flag of Australia in 1995, however its current licensing agreements, all held by non-Indigenous companies, has resulted in the flag not being able to be worn as freely and proudly as it once was.

The RLPA’s support for the ‘Free The Flag’ campaign has been player-led, with members of the Association’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group driving the initiative.

The group is made up of NRL and NRLW players, along with RLPA staff, who have voiced their support for the campaign and will continue to drive awareness within the playing group and the wider community.

 “The Aboriginal flag is the only national flag with exclusive licensing and copyright restrictions,” said injured NRLW player and Indigenous All Star, Amber Pilley.

“I support the Free the Flag campaign as all flags should be about pride and not for profit.

“Through the RLPA, we have a platform to educate other players on this issue and use our collective voice to bring positive change.”

Fellow Indigenous All Star, Jasmin Allende has also lent her support to the campaign as a member of the RAP Working Group.

Canterbury Bulldogs star and Indigenous All Stars player, Adam Elliott, has encouraged government and the relevant agencies to act now.

“Our flag should be no different to other national flags around the world,” Elliott said.

“For our people not to have the ability to use the flag freely and proudly, it takes away from our identity.

“I’m urging government and the relevant agencies to look into how this has happened and take action to get the flag back into the hands of our people.”

RLPA RAP Working Group member, Ryan James

Sydney Roosters forward and member of the RLPA’s RAP Working Group, Angus Crichton, says the ‘Free The Flag’ campaign is a massive step forward in reaching a more reasonable outcome regarding use of the flag.

“Educating people on why this is important is crucial,” Crichton said.

“When I heard about the movement, I immediately wanted to see what I could do to help.

“The more people we have behind this, the more chance we have of achieving real change.”

Departing Manly Sea Eagles forward and former RLPA Board Member, Joel Thompson, said there is an opportunity for the collective group of players to use their platform to drive change.

“The Aboriginal flag is a part of who we are and we should not have to seek permission to use it,” Thompson said.

“The last thing we want is for it to be taken away from us, that’s why ensuring this is as successful campaign is so important.

“We are fortunate as Rugby League Players to have a strong platform to voice our opinion on matters such as these.

“As Indigenous people, there are other more productive areas that we should be spending our time on advancing.

“It’s really disappointing how this has played out and I’m right behind Clothing The Gap’s Free The Flag movement.”

The RLPA will continue to collaborate with Clothing The Gap in the coming months on utilising the voice and platform of players to assist in driving change.

For more information on the campaign, click here.