When Amy fell pregnant, the coaches at Hawthorn Football Club allegedly told her to terminate it.

This post deals with miscarriage, suicide and intergenerational trauma for Indigenous people. It may be triggering for some readers. 

When Amy* fell pregnant, her partner Ian* was "so excited" to share the news with his Hawthorn Football Club.

Amy, who already had a child with a previous partner, had suffered a miscarriage before finding out she was expecting again.

But when Ian, a First Nations player, walked into an office with a group of coaches including Hawthorn's then-head coach Alastair Clarkson and then-senior assistant coach Chris Fagan, he was told to have the pregnancy terminated and break up with Amy. 

This is just one of three harrowing stories detailed in an ABC Sport investigation looking into the behaviour of Hawthorn Football Club, and the alleged mistreatment of First Nations players.

"Clarkson just leaned over me and demanded that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner," Ian told the damning report. 

"He told me to kill my unborn kid." 

Ian said he was then "manipulated" into removing his SIM card from his phone to cut off contact with his family and told he'd be "living with one of the other coaches from that night onwards".

Then Amy received a phone call. 

In a conversation lasting only a few seconds, Ian told her what had happened.

"I just remember that he could barely get the words out and he seemed to be crying, and he quickly said that we needed to terminate the pregnancy and end the relationship," Amy told the publication. 


"I will never forget that phone call or the heartbreak I felt in that moment. I was frozen on the spot, completely numb from what I had just heard Ian say. I had no idea what was happening."

After losing phone contact with Ian, Amy reached out to Hawthorn's player development manager, Jason Burt, and asked if she could meet with Ian to find out what was going on. But the club wouldn't allow it.

Instead, she met with Burt in a cafe with another staff member. 

Recalling the meeting, she told ABC Sport, "Jason had repeatedly told me that Ian had made these decisions on his own but I knew there was more to it. 

"Burt actually confirmed my thoughts when he said Hawthorn had decided it was better for (his) footy career if he didn't become a father. [But] he was already a father!

"They just wanted him to move on from his family and focus on football. Burt said that from then on, I needed to contact him with anything relating to the pregnancy. I felt so alone."

It was only when Amy was five months pregnant, that Ian was allowed to return home. According to the publication, Ian's mental health had declined and the couple were told they had to move to a different suburb that was "more in keeping with Hawthorn's image".

Wanting to keep her family together, Amy moved houses at 37 weeks pregnant, leaving her family support network behind. The following week, the couple welcomed their baby. 

But things took another turn when they learnt they were expecting again six months later.


This time, the initial excitement, "was quickly replaced with fear when I remembered the trauma we had just gone through bringing our previous baby into the world".

Not wanting to lose Ian or put his football career at risk, she decided to terminate the pregnancy.

"I remember my mother taking me to the hospital and as I got out of the car she said to me: 'You don't have to do this'," she told the publication. 

"Before I knew it, I was laying in a hospital bed waiting to be taken into the theatre room.... I remember getting up at one stage and saying to myself 'Just walk out, just leave'. I began to feel the cramps and thought to myself: 'It's too late, they have already given me medication'.

Looking back, Amy said she will always regret the decision. 

"To this day, I haven't been able to completely forgive myself. I often wonder what life would have been like if I had just listened to my mother or followed through with walking out of the hospital that day."

Ian and Amy ended up separating after what they went through and Ian has since left the club, telling ABC Sport he was left suicidal. 

"I've lost the love of the game. I've had suicide attempts. They broke me as a man, as a footballer and as a family man."

"Hawthorn says it's the family club. Yet they tore ours apart," said Amy.

The accusations against Hawthorn. 

Amy and Ian are just one of three Indigenous families who spoke to ABC Sport amid a review into claims of racism at the cub. 

In a troubling report released on Wednesday, the publication said the review - which looks at how First Nations players were treated at Hawthorn while Clarkson was coach from 2005 to 2021 -  reveals the club allegedly bullied and removed First Nations players from their homes, telling them to choose between their careers and their families. 


The review, which was commissioned by Hawthorn earlier this year, was given to Hawthorn hierarchy and the AFL's integrity unit a fortnight ago. 

How has the AFL and Hawthorn responded? 

The AFL responded to the allegations in a statement on Wednesday, saying, "the AFL takes extremely seriously all matters where people report experiencing harm, discrimination or mistreatment in our industry". 

"The experiences outlined in the document are extremely serious and require further and full examination."

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the sporting body will appoint an independent panel to investigate the allegations. 

"We are appointing an external independent panel that will be made up of four people, led by an eminent king’s counsel," he said.

"The independent panel that we will finalise over the next 24 hours will be appropriately skilled, have the right mix of diversity and an approach that prioritises cultural safety for all those who have shared their experiences."

It has been confirmed Fagan, who is now Brisbane's head coach will take a leave of absence as the full extent of allegations levelled against him and Clarkson come to light.


Hawthorn also released a statement earlier on Wednesday, noting the review "raised disturbing historical allegations that require further investigation". 

"Upon learning of these allegations, the club immediately engaged AFL integrity as is appropriate," they wrote. 


The club said they will continue to provide support to those who have participated in the process.

"While the process indicated the current environment at the club is culturally safe, it also recommended that some of the club's current First Nations training and development programs should continue to be strengthened."

*Names have been changed by the ABC for privacy reasons. 

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24-hour support line on 1300 072 637. 

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

- With AAP. 

Feature Image: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos/Getty.