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“WorkSafe inquiries are continuing,” a WorkSafe spokesman said.

The AFL did not comment on whether it had met with WorkSafe but said health and safety matters were of major importance.

“The health and welfare of our players is paramount and so we are constantly in discussion with medical experts and others over our approach to all health and safety matters,” an AFL spokesman said.

WorkSafe cannot begin any investigation until technicalities are addressed. This includes understanding that as the AFL is a national body and not a state association, if an investigation was launched, it could only focus on the procedures used by Victorian-based clubs.

However, Jess said he only wants Victorian-based clubs to fall under his remit. He said WorkSafe had the power to investigate, pointing to the charges it brought against Essendon in 2015 for failing to provide a working environment that was safe and without risks to health during the 2012 supplements program. The Bombers were fined $200,000 for breaching workplace safety laws.

Jess said on Monday he knew he had little hope of having the AFLW and AFL seasons temporarily halted but declared his quest was more about player safety, particularly for head knocks that are not immediately diagnosed as concussion.


“My aim was to make it safer and it is simply not safer,” Jess said.

“I had a meeting with the AFL last Thursday and I said, ‘Do you have a rapid point of care diagnostic tool that can diagnose and treat sub-clinical concussions because SCAT5 can’t?’

“They said they don’t. The most dangerous part of our game is the non-diagnosis of sub-clinical concussions.”

Players who leave the field because of head knocks must pass a Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT). This involves a series of questions, including asking what day it is. Symptoms, including balance, eye movement and cognitive testing, are assessed.

Jess has long argued that the AFL has not done enough to deal with head knocks and concussion.

“The evidence is compelling. This is driven by nothing else other than safety. In this day and age, how can we be getting intergenerational acute issues?” he said, claiming 20 players had retired in the past three years because of the accumulation of head knocks.

Jess has been influential in having former AFL players Shaun Smith, John Barnes, John Platten and Greg Williams detail their post-career health issues which they claim are linked to head knocks from their playing days. A possible class action against the AFL looms but costs are an issue.

The AFLW season begins on Friday night while the men’s AFL home-and-away campaign starts on March 19.

Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.

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