nicky-winmar-statue
  • Nicky Winmar, Premier Mark McGowan and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan unveil historic statue at Optus Stadium
  • Aboriginal football greats, the AFL and the McGowan Government join members of the public for unveiling ceremony before the 50th Western Derby and NAIDOC Week
  • Statue now permanently located between Optus Stadium and Matagarup Bridge
  • Installation marks historic moment in Australian sport and complements the stadium's existing acknowledgement of WA's Aboriginal heritage

A statue depicting Nicky Winmar's courageous stand against racism was unveiled at Optus Stadium today by the AFL great, Premier Mark McGowan and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.

Nicky Winmar's defiant gesture in response to racist abuse from spectators at a St Kilda-Collingwood match in 1993 was captured in a now famous image by photographer Wayne Ludbey.

The statue recreates Winmar's famous pose - where after the final siren he lifted his jumper and pointed his middle finger to his skin, declaring to the crowd: 'I'm black and I'm proud'.

Winmar and Aboriginal teammate Gilbert McAdam had been subjected to relentless racist abuse from sections of the Victoria Park crowd throughout the match.

The image has since become a powerful symbol of Aboriginal pride and opposition to racism in Australian sport.

Nicky Winmar and the Premier joined the AFL and a host of Aboriginal football greats for the unveiling today at Optus Stadium in lead-up to the 50th Western Derby and NAIDOC Week.

Located on a grassed area outside Optus Stadium, the statue and plinth reaches a height of almost five metres and is inscribed with a passage marking the significance of the occasion in Australian reconciliation.

It was commissioned by the AFL and produced by renowned Melbourne sculptor Louis Laumen with the help of a crowdfunding campaign.

The statue complements Optus Stadium's existing acknowledgement of Aboriginal history - while immortalising Winmar's famous gesture on Noongar land in his home State.

Neil Elvis 'Nicky' Winmar played 251 AFL games for St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs, and 58 WAFL matches with South Fremantle.

He was a two-time All Australian, was named in St Kilda's Team of the Century and was the first Aboriginal Australian to play 200 AFL games.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

"Western Australians will feel a great sense of pride that the area surrounding Optus Stadium will host the statue depicting Nicky Winmar's iconic stand against racism.

"That moment is now part of Australian sporting folklore and the powerful message still resonates today. The statue will serve as a reminder that racism has no place in sport, or society generally, and is a fitting tribute to one of the greats of the game.

"It also recognises the significant contribution Aboriginal Australians have made to Australian Rules football.

"I congratulate Nicky for all he achieved during his spectacular career, and for the important and courageous role he played in standing up to racism."

Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:

"As a proud Noongar man Nicky Winmar was a trailblazer on the football field, but his actions this day propelled him into the world of social justice.

"Nicky's actions that day have inspired other Noongar athletes who will in turn inspire future generations to be proud of who they are and where they have come from. It is very fitting to have this statue stand proudly on Noongar land."

Comments attributed to Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray:

"Nicky's gesture marked a turning point for Aboriginal Australians in sport and still stands as one of the most powerful statements made in the history of race relations in this country.

"When Nicky stood up and said 'I'm black and I'm proud', he drew a line in the sand on racism in Australian sport.

"The State Government is honoured to display the statue at Western Australia's home of sport, as a permanent reminder of Winmar's gesture and its impact on race and reconciliation in Australia."

Comments attributed to AFL great Nicky Winmar:

"I'd like to thank the AFL and the Western Australian Government for commissioning the statue, the artist has done an incredible job acknowledging this moment in my life.

"It's a surreal thing to be a part of and it's something my family are very proud of.

"I hope this statue encourages more conversations and education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture."

Comments attributed to AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan:

"There are moments in sport that capture the public imagination and transcend the game - and Nicky Winmar's defiant stance proclaiming his pride about his aboriginality is one of those moments.

"It helped change our game, and I hope, change our country.

"We are very proud of this statue, and thankful to the Western Australian Government for helping make this happen."