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Event overview: What Works? Diversity and Inclusion in Community Sport Symposium


Event overview: What Works? Diversity and Inclusion in Community Sport Symposium

The "What works? Diversity and inclusion in community sport" symposium was held at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia on Thursday, 3 September 2015. This article presents an overview of the event and the main themes arising from the discussions.

The intention of the symposium was to share ideas and practice among key sporting stakeholders regarding how community sport seeks to promote and support diversity. Over 60 delegates attended the workshop from a range of sporting, local government and community based organisations.

A number of key themes emerged from the discussion:

  • It was clear that embracing diversity was beneficial for a number of reasons including increasing a participation base, promoting intercultural understanding and connecting different aspects of communities into one focal point
  • Embracing diverse populations however often required club personnel to change or challenge particular mindsets and values within a club and this was a challenging and difficult process. The club based speakers discussed the need for strong leadership to do this and a clear commitment from the club committee. Both club representatives noted that change is not always welcomed and that strong leadership and a genuine desire to engage new people was needed
  • The culture of the club also had to support different types of participants, one speaker said that if they wanted to attract many new migrants they had to make sure their club was not associated with drinking and smoking as the parents will not allow their children to be in such environments
  • The process of welcoming diverse families into junior sports clubs requires effort and a long-term prospective. The clubs had to really implement efforts to genuinely engage with local communities, particularly through primary schools. Their efforts have been very successful and the club and its members have very much benefited from diversification
  • It was felt by all that the coach was an essential figure in changing club culture to support diversity. Effective clubs train their coaches to support all children regardless of background and gender and if a coach is not doing this work with the coach to improve or put in place steps to replace them

The symposium concluded by considering what support is needed to help community sports clubs work towards supporting diversity and offering inclusive opportunities. It was clear ongoing support and assistance is needed from State Sporting Associations, Local Government and other agencies such as Vic Health. It was also clear that clubs could learn very effectively from each other and sharing of good practice is essential to move forward in this area.

This is a shortened version of a full summary document.

If you would like further information on the symposium please contact


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Ruth Jeanes


Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 23:00