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Stamping the wrong message

By Lucy Polkinghorne
Created 05/05/2009 - 23:23

Stamping the wrong message
by Lucy Polkinghorne

When Australia Post made the controversial decision [1] to remove Brett Stewart’s face from the 2008 NRL Grand Final Collector’s stamps, it sent out a strong message to the public. Guilty.

But Stewart has not yet been found guilty. So why should he be punished by being left off the stamps?

Our judicial system is built on the basis that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Australia Post has assumed Stewart is guilty by leaving him off the stamps before he was even heard in court.

This is a reputable Australian company making this decision without thinking about the influence it might have on the public and even the jury and how it will impact Stewart personally.

The saga began on March 10th 2009 when Manly Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart was arrested and charged [2] over the alleged sexual assault of a 17-year old girl. This allegedly happened after a club sponsorship function in which Stewart was drinking. Stewart pleads not guilty.

The NRL and Manly Club suspended Stewart for the first four weeks of the football season on the ground of drunken behaviour. The sexual assault charge was left up to the courts to determine.

Following this, on 14th April Australia Post released the Manly Sea Eagles collectors stamps of all the players minus Stewart’s photo. The explanation [3] for the decision was made by Australia Post communications adviser Anna Inglis: ‘A decision was made to exclude the player due to the serious nature of the charges he is facing’.

This is an unfair decision when our law states that any person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Stewart should not be removed from the stamps on the basis of an as yet unproven charge.

Is this human right removed simply because he is a footballer?

Sexual assault is a very serious crime and is treated seriously in our society.

On the other hand, there is nothing worse than convicting an innocent person and publicly condemning them for a serious crime they did not commit.

The punishment should wait until the verdict is reached.

I’m interested in how this public condemnation will affect Stewart personally.

Grant Brecht, sports psychologist for the Sydney Swans, believes that Stewart should view it as a hurdle in his journey through life and take responsibility for the actions that led to this situation.

‘It is a test of his emotional maturity and resilience.’

‘He must accept putting himself in this situation, he needs to be emotionally mature in his way in reacting to this and take responsibility.’

‘If he is proved innocent the people (Australia Post) should be talking to him about maybe getting him back onto the stamps.’

Although he is an elite athlete what we must remember is he deserves the same rights as any other citizen.

Category: Sport


Manly to stay on track despite losing Stewart again [4]

Australia Post removes Brett Stewart from stamp collection [5]

Manly fans outraged as Brett Stewart axed in stamp row [6]

Manly Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart banned from Australia Post souvenir stamp collection [7]

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