27 September 2023

The changing face of sport for women and girls.

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Inconvenient training times and second-rate facilities? Madeline Hislop* discusses how sport could change for women and girls.

It’s a familiar scenario. Women and girls relegated to the least convenient playing and training times, with less access to sporting facilities and playing fields.

Women and girls face multiple barriers in community sport, often relying on lower standards than men’s competitions.

But those standards could soon start to shift in Victoria, with the state government announcing a new push to give women and girls equitable access to sporting facilities.

From July 2024, councils in Victoria will need to ensure equal access to sporting facilities for all genders in order to be eligible for infrastructure funding from the state government.

The initiative is part of The Fair Access Policy Roadmap that aims to improve the way women and girls experience and play community sport in Victoria.

The roadmap is in partnership with Sport and Recreation Victoria and VicHealth and is being delivered through the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation.

“This landmark policy will ensure all Victorian women can fully participate in and enjoy the benefits of community sport, with fair opportunity and access to their local facilities,” said Natalie Hutchins, Victorian Minister for Women.

The roadmap – designed for councils, sport and recreation organisations and other groups – is an Australia first, with three phases centred around education, readiness and progress.

Minister for Community Sport Ros Spence said the roadmap will deliver “greater health outcomes for all Victorians, a stronger community sport and recreation sector and fairer use of public sporting assets”.

Sarah Styles, the Director of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation, said the policy will ensure sporting environments are welcoming, accessible and inclusive for everyone.

We’re looking forward to working with all stakeholders, wherever they are on their journey.”

The roadmap comes after research has shown women and girls feel undervalued in community sport in Victoria and their achievements often go unrecognised.

In 2020, researchers at Monash University and Victoria University found that ongoing micro-practices, like difficulty accessing quality facilities, poorer training times, less recognition on club’s social media and lower recognition of their successes, negatively impact women and girls in community sport.

*Madeline Hislop is a journalist & editor of The Sporty Wrap, a weekly newsletter published by Women’s Agenda.

This article first appeared at womensagenda.com.au.

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