Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has indicated the club has been “working with the families concerned” regarding historical allegations of racism and claimed a “proper process” was stripped from the club when its survey results were made public.
The AFL last week released the terms of reference for the investigation, which it initiated after Hawthorn referred findings of its external review to the league.
On Tuesday, Brisbane Lions approved coach Chris Fagan’s return to the role after he took a leave of absence pending the investigation, for which initial statements are due on November 4 and an estimated completion date is in December.
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Fagan set to return to the Lions! | 01:12
In a letter to members on Wednesday, Kennett continued to defend the club’s current culture.
“We were deeply saddened by the findings of the survey among our First Nations players, past and present,” he wrote.
“While that survey re-enforced that the club is a culturally safe workplace for our current players, it did highlight some serious issues with some past players and their families.
“Their stories, anonymously told, were provided to the AFL integrity unit as we were required to do and as was recommended in the survey report. The AFL is now conducting its investigations.
“That said we have already been working with the families concerned to better understand their concerns and assist them where possible and reasonable.
“We, like you, await the results of the AFL’s investigation.”
Kennett later added: “Asking the questions of our past players was the right thing to do. The survey results were made public before we could address the allegations through a proper process.”
The long-time president’s letter came as Hawthorn prepared for a board battle in its upcoming election.
Former deputy premier James Merlino is one of the candidates who has decided to run for a seat on the board, while former player Andrew Gowers has entered the running for the presidency.
Kennett once again urged voters to side with current Vice President Peter Nankivell for a “seamless” handover, pleading with members: “Please do not give in to those who seek to weaken our strengths. A strong united professional board, a strong administration, and a strong football department.”
Of Merlino and Gowers, Kennett wrote: “Both honourable men, but Hawthorn operates as a portfolio driven board and our focus in ensuring we have the right mix of skills, which is why we are endorsing the people we are.”