First Nations people have a critical role in developing regional Australia, a senior AFL manager has told La Trobe University’s annual Fairly public lecture in Shepparton.

The annual event, dedicated to The Fairley Foundation founded by former Shepparton Andrew Fairly, recognises the organisation’s commitment to supporting the local community.

AFL inclusion and social policy general manager Tanya Hosch said regional sports clubs provided good examples of how to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members together.

“The Shepparton community is synonymous with the Rumbalara Football and Netball Club, and what’s been achieved there, through sport, and the sort of social engagement, it enables is not insignificant,” she said.

“That’s been led by the Aboriginal community and with incredible contributions over a sustained period of time.

“That is a great example of deep social capital that the community is developing that could be better supported by the region.”