In the aftermath of Essendon’s match against Richmond on Saturday night, Courtenay Dempsey was racially abused on social media.
Dempsey has decided to shine a light on the incident in the hope it will help stamp out racism.
“My family and I are deeply upset,” Dempsey said.
“People need to understand players are human and we have feelings. There is no place for racism in our society and in our game.
“This shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.”
Dempsey acknowledged he received an apology from the offender and the comment was removed.
“People need to take responsibility for their actions,” Dempsey said.
“It’s all very well to hide behind social media but the pain of a comment like that lasts long after it has been deleted.
“I felt I needed to take a stand. It’s important for people to understand that their actions have consequences.
“As players we can accept feedback after we’ve had a poor game, it comes with the territory. But we shouldn’t, and won’t, tolerate abuse that attacks our race, sexuality or mental health.”
CEO Xavier Campbell said the Club fully supports Courtenay’s decision to take a stand.
“As a Club and an industry we have a long history of educating the community about acceptance and tolerance, so to read the offensive and hurtful material on Courtenay’s social media account is incredibly disappointing and frustrating,” Campbell said.
“People need to understand cyber bullying is a crime in Victoria and when you decide to post offensive comments on social media you will be held to account.
“We understand Victoria Police has contacted Courtenay and the Club will fully support him if he chooses to take this matter further.”
The Long Walk Chairperson, Leanne Brooke, was disheartened to read the comments directed at Courtenay who has been a strong advocate for the Indigenous charity.
“I’m very saddened that there are still ignorant people out there hurling racial abuse. There is no place for racism in any sporting arena,” Brooke said.
“The racist comment on Courtenay‘s Instagram account highlights the lack of awareness regarding Indigenous people and the issues impacting Indigenous communities.”
Ms Brooke also added the comment relating to suicide was callous given that current suicide rates for Aboriginal men are 40% higher than that of non Aboriginal males.
“Knowledge is power and Courtenay will continue to work with The Long walk in educating Australians to build a sense of social conscience and create social change.”