The Tasmania JackJumpers basketball team has issued an apology following backlash over their Indigenous Round jersey design. Designed by artist Reuben Oates, who identifies as aboriginal, the jersey sparked criticism for incorporating dot art, a style not traditionally associated with Tasmanian Indigenous culture.
In response to the controversy, the club announced the jersey's withdrawal from the Indigenous Round games and prohibited its sale to fans. The team expressed regret, stating,:
"It was never the club's intention to cause division within the broader Tasmanian Aboriginal community." The JackJumpers emphasised their commitment to community unity and announced they would continue other Indigenous Round activities as planned.
Oates defended his design, asserting that his intention was to celebrate Aboriginal culture in Tasmania.
"Dots are dots, I really don't know what else to say. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing because I know what I'm doing isn't wrong," he stated.
The controversy began when Indigenous fan Rulla Kelly-Mansell raised concerns about the design, pointing out that dot art isn't part of 'Palawa-Pakana' culture, the Aboriginal name for Tasmanian Indigenous people. Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre campaign manager Nala Mansell criticised the club's lack of consultation with the Aboriginal community, highlighting the need for respectful collaboration.
In response to the criticism, the JackJumpers acknowledged the oversight and pledged to enhance collaboration with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and the broader Aboriginal community.