Jimmy Bartel uncomfortable with prospect of Tarryn Thomas return

Anna Harrington and Oliver Caffrey
Essendon coach Brad Scott says he’s prepared to throw Tarryn Thomas a lifeline after being suspended for 18 games for threatening a woman.
Essendon coach Brad Scott says he’s prepared to throw Tarryn Thomas a lifeline after being suspended for 18 games for threatening a woman. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel says he would be “incredibly uncomfortable” with Tarryn Thomas being given another chance to revive his AFL career amid a club-led push to condemn violence against women.

AFL players, coaches and umpires will observe a moment’s silence to honour the victims of domestic violence during this weekend’s round of games, which starts in Adelaide on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, Essendon coach Brad Scott indicated he would be prepared to throw a career lifeline to Thomas, whom he coached as a youngster at North Melbourne.

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The 24-year-old Thomas has been out of the AFL system since the Kangaroos sacked him in February after he was suspended for 18 games by the league for threatening a woman and other misconduct.

He won’t be able to join another club until at least the end of the season, and needs to pass another behavioural-change program before doing so.

“As an industry, do we just wash our hands and say we’re done with him? Or do we help him? I’d prefer to sit in the help camp,” Scott said.

But Bartel, who is also on the GWS board, wasn’t convinced Thomas’s redemption needed to come via yet another opportunity at AFL level, and indicated he leaned more towards a “zero tolerance” approach.

Bartel opened up in 2016 about the domestic violence his mother and he and his siblings suffered at the hands of his father.

He also grew a beard for that entire 2016 season to raise awareness of domestic violence.

“Personally, I feel very uncomfortable with it,” Bartel said on television.

“I get the whole premise of forgiveness and chances - he’s had a number of chances with his alleged behaviour, just tabling that.

“But at some stage there’s got to be a fork in the road, because the forgiveness angle hasn’t worked, because the numbers are actually getting worse.

“I was part of a campaign, that was seven years ago, trying to very visually put the AFL as a leader, saying no to domestic violence, starting conversations, parents with children. And we’re getting worse.”

He added of Thomas specifically: “At some stage the privilege has got to run out.

“Playing AFL football, we talk about this with the drugs issue, it’s a privilege to play AFL.

“It was a privilege to get multiple opportunities. And now you’re getting the privilege of being spoken about getting another lifeline?

“Throw your arms around him, support him, but you don’t have to do that at AFL level.”

The number of women killed by intimate partners in Australia rose by 28 per cent in the 2022/23 financial year, with 89 per cent of intimate-partner homicide victims being women, according to a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

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