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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7727


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (13:39): A few years ago, we all stood in this place and celebrated the creation of the AFLW, a women's league at the national level. Many teams started in those first two years and the competition in the first year and the second year ran for seven weeks, plus two weeks for finals. The first game ever of AFLW was a lockout. Generations of women went to the game to see, for the first time ever, women playing at the top level. There was also a commitment—and the league has delivered—to expand the competition. Next year there'll be more teams in the AFLW.

So you can imagine the disappointment of women football players, their supporters and their teams to discover that the AFL is actually going to cut the season next year. They're proposing, in 2019, to cut the season from seven weeks to six weeks. That's not even enough weeks for every team to play against each other. We are calling on the AFL to rethink this plan. The women's league has launched an online petition, and I encourage everybody to go online and sign that petition—5,000 people have already signed it—calling on the AFL to expand the women's league season. Six weeks is a gimmick. It is not long enough for these women to play at the professional level and for each team to play each other. If the league were serious about women and women's football, it would not be cutting the season length; it'd be increasing the season length.