The promotion of safe sports participation has become a public health issue due to rising obesity rates and the potential for parental concerns about safety to inhibit sports participation. The safety of Australian football and its elite game, the Australian Football League (AFL), is often the focus of media commentary. Participation in the modified version of the game (Auskick) has been shown to be safer but by the time children reach the under-15 age group, adult rules are in place and the umbrella of safety provided by modified rules is gone. Figures released recently by the AFL suggest that injury rates at the elite-level are at an historical low, but equivalent information for the more than 400,000 non-elite participants is not available. Published literature related to preventing injuries in Australian football highlights a significant knowledge gap with respect to the aetiology of injuries in non-elite participants and only a very small evidence base for prevention of injuries in this sport. Gains in reducing the public health impact of football injuries, and injury-related barriers to Australian football participation, will only come from substantial investment in large-scale trials at the non-elite level, and a co-ordinated and multidisciplinary approach to dealing with safety and injury issues across all levels of play. Active and committed collaboration of key stakeholders such as government health agencies, peak sports bodies, sports administrators, clinicians, researchers, clubs, coaches and the participants themselves will be necessary.