St Kilda’s AFLW side will debut a brand-new guernsey across this year’s Indigenous Round celebrations, designed by proud Kirrae and Peek Wurrong woman and artist of the Gunditjmara nation, Bayley Mifsud.

The guernsey, designed prior to the arrival of St Kilda’s inaugural Indigenous women’s player J’Noemi Anderson, depicts the Saints’ Indigenous playing group and the club’s connection to the local land and waterways of the Bunurong people. 

A pattern of a gumtree – a popular design of Mifsud’s – takes up the space usually reserved for the white panel of the club’s strip, while a series of yellow dots are also incorporated in representation of the Aboriginal Flag.

In the centre of the design is a traditional gathering circle, with eight symbols showcasing each of the club’s Indigenous male players from the season just gone. The outer circle represents the club’s past playing group, who are looking over the current crop of Indigenous players to symbolise guidance, unity and support.

Mifsud’s connection to the Saints runs deep through her father, Jason – a former player and coach at St Kilda during the 2000s – and cousins Xavier and Raphael Clarke.

Warumungu woman and Saint J'Noemi Anderson with this season's Indigenous guernsey designer, Bayley Mifsud. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

“Aboriginal art is about the telling of our history and heritage. Throughout most of my art, the relationship between the people and the land are key features,” Mifsud said.

“As Aboriginal people, we have a very strong spiritual connection to Country, so when designing the guernsey I wanted to connect people to the Lands of the Bunurong, the spiritual home ground of the Saints. 

“Without the Saints, I wouldn’t actually be in Melbourne, so I was very happy to create a design that connected past and present players with the Lands upon which they train and play.”

Mifsud began painting Aboriginal art at the age of five, learning from her Elders at the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the Grampians. She currently has her own art business, Merindah-Gunya – a name gifted to Bayley which translates to ‘Beautiful Spirit’ – and works as the National Indigenous Engagement Lead for Officeworks.

A powerful inspiration behind her art has been her Nan, who despite not being recognised as a citizen until the 1967 Referendum, has taught her much about her ancestors and the importance of having a strength and pride in her identity and culture. 

“Nan has always been such a wonderful role model for me. Despite the many hardships she faced due to the laws of the day, she encouraged us all to be proud of who we are and where we come from,” Mifsud said.

For Australia to become a more reconciled nation, a better nation, we need to find ways to keep bringing people together. Sport can do that, and the inclusion of Indigenous jumpers is another celebration of reconciliation.

- Bayley Mifsud

“I hope the Indigenous players feel a sense of pride when they pull on the jumper, and for the non-Indigenous players, I hope they appreciate that as the majority, their support to stand in solidarity with First Nations people, does make a real difference.” 

St Kilda’s Indigenous guernsey for Season 7 will double as its clash strip for the remainder of the season.