To help celebrate and acknowledge National Reconciliation Week, Aiden Domic, Werribee's sole Indigenous player has shared his story.
Originally published for NAIDOC Week 2019
The GWV Rebels product joined Werribee ahead of the 2019 season in search of senior VFL opportunities after a stint with Geelong’s program. He went on to play four games in his debut year at Avalon Airport Oval, as well as starring in the AFL Victoria Young Guns Series.
Domic’s Indigenous roots stem from his father’s mother who was part of a Mount Isa mission. The family is originally from Rockhampton in central Queensland.
“It’s just dad that’s Aboriginal, he’s Torres Strait as well, so I got both of it which is pretty cool,” Domic said.
“My people are the Kalkadoon people. They’re from Rockhampton and were a warrior tribe originally, but they moved around a bit so they don’t have a specific spot.”
Growing up, Domic developed an understanding and passion for his culture largely courtesy of his mother’s Indigenous education background.
“Mum always taught Indigenous studies and she was good with that, she gave me a basis and everything I needed,” he said.
“She was always really helpful with teaching me about my culture and igniting the fire inside me to want to learn about it.”
Domic’s elite football journey took off as a 13-year-old thanks to AFL Victoria’s Indigenous player pathway programs. He graduated from the Kickstart program into Laguntas (Indigenous youth development program) and then onto the Flying Boomerangs representative team, where he played in the 2014 NAB AFL U16 Championships.
Former triple Brisbane premiership player and current AFL Victoria Diversity Talent Manager Chris Johnson and ex-Melbourne star Aaron Davey were important mentors for Domic throughout his time in the programs, and to this day he still calls on the lessons he learned. Domic has been a regular contributor to cultural gatherings and in recent years has been involved in a staple of the AFL calendar.
“I’ve done the Indigenous war cry for the past four years before the Dreamtime at the ‘G game between Richmond and Essendon, so that’s pretty cool,” he said.
Domic got involved through Richmond’s KGI program and hopes that after Sydney Stack’s willingness to be involved in the war cry, more players will follow suit.
“You heard the way the crowd went off, it was ridiculous, it was so cool. That’s where I get a lot of passion from, being able to be a part of something bigger than myself.Embed from Getty Images
Appreciative of the foundations set by his family and in more recent times AFL Victoria’s Indigenous player pathway programs, Domic is dedicating his time and effort to helping others from a similar background.
“I’m studying social work at Deakin Uni and I want to look into Indigenous youth, helping in that respect, using my knowledge, especially considering I’ve had such good opportunities to be able to have a platform to express myself.
“Receiving the indigenous scholarship at St Patricks College Ballarat was a massive opportunity and it taught me a lot. It has probably put me in a better place than a lot of boys that would want to do the same as me, so I feel like it gives me a bit of a responsibility to help others get there.”
Domic is one of very few Aborignal players in the VFL and is Werribee’s one and only. Through his experiences at the club under Mark ‘Choco’ Williams’ watch, he strongly recommends others to follow his lead.
“It would be awesome to see more Aboriginal players come through the doors at Werribee … it’s an environment where you can find a sense of belonging, which is such a big thing … just makes you feel comfortable and adds a lot to the group as well,” he said.
And as for his relationship with the coach, who has a rich history working with culturally diverse communities, Domic says many can learn from ‘Choco’s’ approach.
“The first time I met him we had a really good chat about my culture and background. He’s always been someone that approaches that with a really good attitude. He looks to approach people which I think is a big thing that people need to do … often people are too scared to ask because they might ask the wrong thing. It’s a lot better to be open, that way everyone can learn something.”
National Reconciliation Week means a lot to Aiden Domic. For him, it’s about celebrating Indigenous culture, educating others and getting more people involved in what is one of the oldest living cultures in the world.
Visit the Reconciliation Australia website for more info.