Andrew Thorburn, Essendon Bombers reach settlement



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“Both parties consider that elements of the public commentary at the time were extreme and wrong and counter-productive to the respectful community dialogue they agree is critical.

“Mr Thorburn remains welcome at the club. The club reiterates that he is a person of integrity who treats others, whether at work or elsewhere, with dignity and respect. He has a strong track record of leadership including with respect to diversity and inclusion of LGBTIQ and other minority groups.

“As part of a commitment to genuine diversity and inclusion, and to show leadership in this area, the club has agreed to make a donation to an ethics institute. The institute will prepare an independent paper on how sporting organisations can build inclusive communities recognising freedoms including those relating to race, religion and sexuality.”

Thorburn expanded on the statement with a post on LinkedIn.

“I am pleased it is resolved,” he said. “I would like to thank EFC and wish them well as they seek to build a strong and united club.

“The statement is important – not just because it enables us to resolve the differences between us constructively, but because it affirms some key points of principle about genuine diversity and inclusion and respectful engagement.

“The last few months have been difficult, yet it has also given me hope and strength. This has come from the many people who have reached out to me and provided love, prayers and support through these challenging times. The statement would not have been achieved without the support of many – Kathryn, my wife; our family; my legal team, Michael Borsky KC and Justin Vaatstra (of ABL); Mark Hawthorne (Civic Partnership); the community of City on a Hill; and my friends. Thank you so much.

“Personally, I will be stepping away from all my formal responsibilities at the end of February 2023, and taking a year off. It is time to rest and reflect, and to spend an extended time with those I love.”

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Thorburn had engaged a lawyer on what he felt was a point of principle over his departure from Essendon, rather than for personal financial gain.

He said when he parted with Essendon that his concern was not about money but principle and that freedom of religion, conscience, thought and association were explicitly recognised as human rights under Victorian law.

“It is troubling that faith or association with a church, mosque, synagogue or temple could render a person immediately unsuited to holding a particular role,” Thorburn said in a statement at the time.

“That is a dangerous idea, one that will only reduce tolerance for others and diversity of thought and participation in our community and workplaces.”

As part of the confidential settlement Thorburn has agreed to drop all legal action.

Before his appointment, Thorburn had presided over a review, with Ernst & Young, of the club’s football operations, administration and culture.

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