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Sports Engagement Program

Our Watch’s Sports Engagement Program is helping sporting organisations embed gender equality and respectful relationships into their networks and communities, and build cultures that help prevent violence against women and their children.
The Sports Engagement Program was established by Our Watch in 2015, in partnership with the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Social Services to build the capacity of sporting organisations to take action to prevent violence against women and their children.
Over the longer term, the Sports Engagement Program will ensure:
  • More people across the Australian community support gender equality, reject gender stereotypes and adopt positive bystander actions.
  • More young people have the skills to identify and build respectful and equitable relationships.
  • Strong community engagement and leadership that helps drive prevention.
  • Strong communities of prevention practice within and across sporting sectors and jurisdictions.

A team effort: preventing violence against women through sport 

A team effort: preventing violence against women through sport focuses on the work being undertaken in structured sport settings and by sporting organisations. The Evidence Guide summarises and recognises the work sporting organisations undertake to prevent violence against women. It draws on stakeholder consultations and a review of international and national evidence about the important role that sports can play in preventing violence against women and outlines ten key elements of promising practice in sport settings.  

Download A team effort resources here

Watch: Change the story through sport  

This video illustrates the important role that sport can play in promoting gender equality and respect to help change the story about violence against women in Australia.

It is available to be viewed with a female narrator or a male narrator. 

Find the "audio description" version of this video here.

NB: The iceberg image in this clip has been adapted from Gippsland Women’s Health, ‘Make the Link’ resources. Accessed September 2017: https://makethelink.org.au/make-the-link/.
A full list of references for the Change the Story through Sport video can be found below.

How sport can help Change the story  

This four page document highlights the important opportunities and influence for sporting organisations and clubs to play an active and positive role in preventing violence against women. It provides practical examples of the kinds of actions that everyone involved in sport - whether you’re a Board member, CEO, manager, coach, player, umpire, staff, volunteer or fan – can do to play an important role in preventing violence against women.  
Sport can be a leader to empower, motivate and inspire change, on and off the field. Sport can use its influence to extend the principles of equality and fairness beyond the field – into the boardroom, the coach’s box, the stands, the change rooms, and the media – to prevent violence against women.

Download How sport can help Change the story here

What is the National Sporting Organisations Initiative?

In March 2015 Our Watch sought expressions of interest from National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) wishing to apply for funding from the Sports Grants Bank to build their capacity to take action to prevent violence against women and their children. The National Sporting Organisations Initiative is the first initiative of the Sports Engagement Program and is aimed at national sporting codes. The National Sporting Organisations Initiative is working with AFL, Netball Australia, NRL and ARU from July 2015 to July 2018. 

Together the successfully funded NSOs are working towards:
  • Increasing awareness of violence against women across their affiliated members, partners and the broader community.
  • Addressing gender inequality, sexism and the cultures that minimise and condone violence against women and their children.
  • Developing standardised policies, procedures, tools and resources which will enable Our Watch to support other National Sporting Organisations to develop and implement activities to prevent violence against women and their children. 

In order to extend the reach of the initiative the funded NSOs are working together to:
  • Establish awareness regarding violence against women and how it can be prevented.
  • Educate players/staff/volunteers on ways to be an active bystander.
  • Celebrate and share the successes in breaking down barriers for women’s participation and decision-making.
  • Appoint ambassadors who can engage the sporting community and help prioritise gender equality and preventing violence against women.
  • Contribute to the development of standardised policies, tools and resources for uptake by the partner NSOs and other NSOs not in receipt of funding.
  • Inspire and promote awareness about the ways to end violence against women at high profile games annually.
  • Utilise each code's social media presence to promote positive, equal and respectful relationships. 
  • Review current training and education to strengthen respectful relationships, challenge gender stereotypes and promote the value of gender equality.

Watch our sporting role models from the AFL, ARU, Netball Australia and NRL pledge their support for gender equality.  

Click here for the "audio description" version

References - Change the story in sport
  1. 87% of adults participating in sport or activity: Australian Sport Commission. (2016). AusPlay Participation data for the sport sector: Summary of key national findings October 2015 to September 2016. Retrieved from https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/735239/34648_AusPlay_summary_report_accessible2.pdf
  2. Equal participation rates for men and women: Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012).  Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2011-12. Retrieved from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/4177.0~2011-12~Main+Features~Characteristics+of+persons+who+participated?OpenDocument
  3. Television coverage: Lumby, C., Caple, H. & Greenwood, K. (2014). Towards a level playing field: sport and gender in Australian media. Australian Sports Commission.
  4. 1 in 3 board members in sport are women: Tranter, R., Medd, R. & Braund, C. (2016). Gender balance in global sport report. Women on Boards, Australia. Australian Institute of Sport. (2017). Sports Tally 2017. Australian Sports Commission, retrieved from: https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/australias_winning_edge/sports_tally/2017/governance