Determinants of tribunal outcomes for Indigenous footballers

Neil Brewer, Carla Welsh, Jenny Williams

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This paper reports on a study that examined whether football tribunal members' judgments concerning players' alleged misdemeanours on the sporting field are likely to be shaped by extra-evidential factors that disadvantage players from Indigenous backgrounds. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian Football League (AFL) players, matched in terms of their typical levels of confidence and demeanour in public situations, were interrogated in a mock tribunal hearing about a hypothetical incident on the football field. The specific aim was to determine if the pressures of such questioning elicited behavioural differences likely to be interpreted as indicative of testimonial unreliability. Mock tribunal members (number = 103) then made judgments about the degree to which a number of behavioural characteristics were evident in the players' testimonies. Under intense interrogation, Indigenous players were judged as presenting less confidently and displaying a greater degree of gaze aversion than non-Indigenous players. These behavioural characteristics are commonly - and inappropriately - used as cues or heuristics to infer testimonial accuracy. The paper discusses the implications for Indigenous players appearing at tribunal hearings - and for the justice system more broadly.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-30
    Number of pages12
    JournalAustralian Aboriginal Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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