Because of her we can: Tanya Hosch

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Because of her we can: Tanya Hosch

To celebrate NAIDOC Week 2018 ‘Because of her we can!’ - held across Australia 8-15 July - we were fortunate to talk with four remarkable Indigenous women making huge changes in our communities. All imagery supplied is by Wayne Quilliam whose photographs showcase real indigenous women living in contemporary society. With more than 30 years’ experience Wayne is Australia’s most respected Aboriginal photographer.

Tanya Hosch, General Manager Inclusion & Social Policy at the AFL, has been involved in an impressive portfolio of campaigns and initiatives supporting equality for Indigenous and female players.
As a passionate advocate for change, Tanya has an extraordinary drive to influence national conversation, and her work has catalysed monumental shifts towards equal opportunity for our talented female and Indigenous sportspeople.

We chatted to Tanya about who inspires her, where she sees Australian sport moving to next and the professional moments she’s most proud of.

Westfield: Throughout your career, you’ve had an incredible impact across Indigenous policy including your work with RECOGNISE, advocacy, governance and fundraising. What has been the driving force behind your passion and commitment?

Tanya Hosch: To help people understand what it’s like to experience discrimination and to positively impact the lives and wellbeing of other people. Making Australia inclusive for everybody is something I’m very passionate about.

W: What has been your proudest professional achievement or moment?

TH: The campaign to change the Australian constitution was a proud moment. I became a media spokesperson which is something I never thought I could do and I learnt a lot. Today, I’m very proud to have helped launch the Indigenous AFL Past Players group, encouraging and working with players to have their own voice.

W: You were appointed the AFL’s General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy in 2016, where you were the first Indigenous person and second female to join the executive committee. At the time, what did you hope to achieve in this role?

TH: This was a great opportunity to do more around the inclusion agenda, working to promote ideas I feel very passionate about, using a sporting platform that has a massive, national reach. It was a privilege to have had access to communicate with so many Australians.

W: Two years later, how far do you think the AFL has come in its commitment to inclusion and diversity?

TH: The clubs, the AFL and the individual players are proactive with regards to bringing the position of these issues forward. For example, the AFL changed their whole logo in celebration of the ‘Yes’ vote. The AFLW game has grown significantly as well, and there is a strong desire to branch out even further.

W: Recently, you gave an International Women’s Day address where you described sport as a “powerful vehicle for change.” Can you explain how you see sport playing a role in social change?

TH: Sport can be a lightning rod for social change - for sexism, and racism in particular. We therefore have a unique opportunity to reach a large volume of Australians through a platform that has national cultural significance. While we understand not everyone wants to see overt social messaging while they’re watching sport, there is also a growing desire among our fan base to be a part of social change which is encouraging. The AFLW tagline is “You can’t be what you can’t see”. When I was growing up I experienced racism, and one of the reasons I fell in love with AFL was because it was the only outlet I could find where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were being cheered on.

W: This year’s NAIDOC campaign ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ celebrates the important contributions that Indigenous women have made and continue to make in Australia. How important is it to tell these stories?

TH: Historically, there has been a prominent male voice in the media. Now there is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and leadership. There is some very positive work taking place around Australia that heroes inspirational women generally, but the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this narrative is too infrequent.

W: As an Indigenous female role-model to others, who inspires you?

TH: The women I work with now and in the past. I’m also lucky to have had a large number of mentors. My late mother, who always got on with things without much limelight, and all the women in our communities who bring up families, hold down jobs, and excel in areas that were once rare for women. The first two senior coaches in the AWLW who won the AFLW flag. The hundreds of women working to bring elite football to the forefront. The strong female and male leaders I’ve been fortunate to work with. I also hold a special place for women who support women.

W: What is your greatest hope in regards to the future for Indigenous women?

TH: To be able to pursue all our aspirations, free from racism, sexism and violence, and - as a nation - operate under a fair legal framework, and to be part of an inclusive community that inspires us to reach our full potential.

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