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Tensions flare over Winmar and Nixon’s NAIDOC week event

The Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC) in Tasmania said it was forced to cancel Winmar and Nixon’s special guest spot at the Circular Head Saints Football Club (CHSFC) this weekend after “an individual … actively and deliberately undermined this opportunity … on the basis of misinformation and a misguided agenda.”Selena Maguire, chairperson of CHAC, said the matter escalated earlier this week when the individual tried, and failed, to gain access to another NAIDOC event.Ms Maguire added: “(CHAC) made the decision to put the safety of its guests and staff first … (and) the harassment has continued beyond this organisation.”CHAC apologised to Winmar and Nixon, adding the two football identities “have had to face harassment and have had their characters questioned as a result of individual misguided reactions and opinions.” Ms Maguire said: “CHAC invited Winmar, an Aboriginal icon and cultural movement activist, into our community to be a part of a celebration of culture and achievement this NAIDOC Week.”At the planned event, in Smithton, in Tasmania’s northwest, Winmar was set to present inaugural NAIDOC football jumpers to CHSFC players. “Winmar transcends sport and provides an immeasurable amount of influence and inspiration to all in our community, especially to the young Aboriginal men and women battling with their identities,” Ms Maguire said. “The steps taken to undermine this unique opportunity for our community are conceited and misguided. The greater community is in heartache and disbelief that any one person would take it upon themselves to jeopardise this opportunity.“We now have young Grade 5 children in tears, as a result of the actions of this individual, who has taken away their chance to meet their idol and hero. “As a result, the children and parents are left confused because of the factually incorrect and misguided diatribe circulating throughout the community.”In a Facebook post, CHAC added: “We value the opinion of all members of the public. However, if that opinion creates any risk to our staff and guests, including cultural risks, we will always put the safety and security of our guests first.”Nixon responded to the controversy on social media on Friday.Nixon said on his Facebook page: “Unfortunately, due to the actions of an individual in Smithton, Tasmania, in the past two weeks, Nicky Winmar and I have decided that the priority has to be, and will always be, the community’s safety. Hence we will not be coming to Tasmania this weekend on the advice of authorities. “We will, however, be assisting the community in other ways in the next few months which we will announce soon. “We won’t be making further comment nor answering questions in relation to this matter.”CHAC said it is seeking “legal advice” over the matter, but added, in a statement: “To clarify any concerns brought about by an individual, Richard Nixon holds a Victorian Working With Children Check — the Victorian equivalent of a Working With Vulnerable People Card.”The CHAC statement added: “His accompaniment alongside Nicky Winmar should not cloud the positivity of Winmar’s visit and the importance it holds for many in this community.”Saints legend Winmar was immortalised by a powerful gesture when, after copping racial abuse during a game in 1993, he lifted his jumper and, facing the crowd, pointed to his skin. Headlines described it as an “anti-racist symbol” and one of the “most poignant” images in Australian sport.

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