AFL players whose careers are ended by concussion will be eligible for payouts under a new injury and hardship scheme.
The AFL Players’ Association has allocated $24.7 million to the fund, which is tipped to be accessed by up to 200 former AFL/VFL players per year.
Past players will be eligible to access grants of up to $8,000 towards treatment of joint and dental injuries stemming from their careers.
The AFLPA will continue to provide for players experiencing hardship as a result of injury, illness or mental health issues, with the criteria having been broadened to make payments possible to more players and better capture injuries such as concussion.
AFLPA President Patrick Dangerfield said the direction of $4 million per year (indexed) from the players’ share of industry revenue into the fund was a key priority throughout the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.
The AFLPA estimates that 76 per cent of players leave the game with a serious injury, with 64 per cent of those requiring ongoing treatment.
Three-time All Australian Nick Dal Santo welcomed the contribution to the player body.
“I’ve got a significant operation to come up maybe in the next 10 to 15 years with a full hip replacement, so to know that someone might be able to spot a little bit of the bill is reassuring,” said Dal Santo.
“They (the AFLPA) do a lot of things, and the one that we always hear about is the Collective Bargaining Agreement…but an issue is the post-career injury and hardship issues.”
“As good as AFL football is, you get put in a bubble and you live this life of professional sport, and it’s fantastic, you get rewarded in regards to a lifestyle, but also financially, but then it’s a huge change coming out of the game.”
“They (footballers) do have different issues, particularly later in life than the normal person in the streets.”
There are five pillars to the fund:
LIFETIME HEALTH CARE: Players can access up to $8,000 to cover treatment for costs for joint injuries and dental procedures related to football.
FOOTBALL-ENDING INJURY: Players who exit the game due to an injury that prevents them from playing football at senior level in any other competition again are eligible for a payment based on their age and the base value of the final year of their standard playing contract.
DELISTED INJURY PLAYER PAYMENT: Players who are unable to work immediately following their delisting due to an injury can access one month’s pay at the average Australian wage.
PAST PLAYER HARDSHIP: Grants may be directed to players who experience hardship due to injury, illness or wellbeing issues.
HOSPITAL EXCESS REIMBURSEMENT: Reimbursement of $500 to cover excess following a hospital stay.