Wiradjuri man Joe Williams has praised the AFL for creating a conversation around Aboriginal flag rights ahead of this weekend's Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round.
The league this year has opted not to use the Aboriginal flag amid a national debate around copyright restrictions on the use of the design.
The Aboriginal flag was designed by Luritja man Harold Thomas over 40 years ago, who granted clothing rights to WAM Clothing in 2018.
Those wishing to use the flag on clothing must now strike a deal with the company.
Mr Williams said it was "disappointing" that a non-Indigenous organisation had the power to charge for the use of the flag.
"How many non-Indigenous people have to pay to use the Australian flag?" he said.
"There shouldn't have to be a point where we're having cease and desist letters sent out and people being threatened with legal structures and being sued because they're using the Aboriginal flag that's represented Aboriginal people for so long."
Mr Williams said he believed the situation was another example of something special to Aboriginal people being co-opted for profit.
"We've been used to make profit in this country with many different things, obviously around mining rights and so forth, you've only got to have a look at the damage that was done in WA recently, blowing up an extremely sacred site for the sake of profit," he said.
Mr Williams, former NRL player and professional boxer, said it was a positive to see a sporting organisation of the size and influence of the AFL bringing the situation to light.
"Sport has a fantastic platform to be able to open such conversations and they're important conversations," he said.
"I think it's a positive thing the AFL has chosen not to do it because they shouldn't have to pay licensing fees to a non-Indigenous company to benefit from the use of the Aboriginal flag," he said.
While the AFL has not commented publicly on its decision, momentum is growing on a petition to change the licensing agreement around the Aboriginal flag which has ticked over 100,000 signatures.
The petition is part of a campaign from Aboriginal-owned company Clothing the Gap, which received a cease and desist letter from WAM Clothing last year in relation to several of their products featuring the flag.