Roundtable Speech, James Demetriou, 21/09/11


Roundtable Speech form James Demetriou in Canberra. Particpants were Australian Football League, National Rugby League/Australian Football League, Football Federation of Australia, Cricket Australia, Netball Australia, Basketball Australia, Hockey Australia, Football United, Disability and Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Multicultural Council, Centre for Multicultural Youth (Vic), Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Foundation House, Settlement of Council of Australia (NSW), Multicultural Development Association, (QLD), Multicultural Youth South Australia, Sports Without Borders (Vic), Vic Health, Australian Sports Commission, Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Thank you Minister Arbib and Senator Lundy for this opportunity. I am ecstatic to finally see key stakeholders in the same room!

Sport plays a vital role in building social inclusion in Australia, as an engine of shared experience and empowering newly arrived Australians to develop friendships, identity and a sense of active belonging, and improved health.

However, for Sport – whether unstructured or structured – to succeed, it must be done in connection with other services and networks and must value minority communities and approach sport as an element of included community. 

Sport Setting

Our research, Monash University, Centre Multicultural Youth (CMY) and others certainly support the notion that there has been a decrease in sport participation. The main findings are:

-26% of Australians participate in organized sport weekly

-16% participate as a part of an organized sport club or association

-36% of children between 8 and 14 and born in Australia are not involved in organized sport

-For Generation Y, representing people between 16 and 29, sport is the 6th most popular activity

-For Generation X, representing people between 30 and 44, sport is, too, the 6th most popular activity

-Employment and parents’ involvement play an important role in influencing participation rates

-The Gap: Non English Speaking Background children are 2/3 less likely to participate in sport than children from the traditional Australian community

Other programs and our surveys have discovered the impact of the Gap, with newly arrived kids feeling socially excluded.

Settlement and Multicultural Social Inclusion Policy Setting

Sport is not a defined pillar of policy like health, employment and education.

Social inclusion at the federal government has no real budget and its agenda is not build around the budget.

The major National State Organisations (NSO) funding is built around a budget geared towards women, the indigenous community and all abilities people.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in fact does not have a multicultural senior officer; it only has an all cultures policy website, not a multicultural one

Having said that, there are a number of programs for women, the indigenous community and all abilities people. The 2011 Multicultural Youth Grants Program is a start, but this is not a part of a multicultural platform, but under sports

The sector is fragmented and has not responded to the benefits of engagement and participation. The sector is a mixture of NSO, State Sporting Organisations, ASC and third Parties. It is currently stuck in single silos, such as Vic Health. Vic Health will set up programs such as racism etc and then NSO’s will align themselves for funds. For example, Soccer Football Federation Victoria receives fixed funds whenever it is in this space.  SWB spent 60% of its funds to support young, newly arrived immigrants in joining fees, equipment, saving clubs etc.

SWB and Centre for Multicultural Youth etc are excluded as they are seen as external third parties, yet we carry a continuous burden.

Sport is not recognized as an essential service for settlement services and yet it is an as important to young, newly arrived people as health education, language etc

Yet it receives no funds, no skilled resources and is piecemeal

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and others do not see sport as part of their agenda. No DIAC officer or ASC officer is dedicated to service this sector. Yet ASCO and other services are geared to service special needs. Multicultural sport is a special needs and should be treated equally

Grass Roots of Social Inclusion

SWB was formed in 2006/2007, and has engaged 5000 participants and given over $320,000 grants to young people from the Horn of Africa, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Focus has been in Victoria but now we are starting to work in NSW in Auburn, Lakemba and Fairfield.

SWB was founded to fill the gap in the social inclusion policy vacuum. It is an environment of:

-Time poor parents and kids

-Lack of involvement by parents and hence voluntarism

-Lack of integration and active participants in cultural groups often form their own clubs

-Transport and sheer costs of sport is a major problem

-Lack of localized opportunities and pathways to clubs etc

-Lack of cross cultural activity

-Family Issues as kids want to be involved and parents excluded because of language

-School setting; parents expect their kids to be schooled and find jobs – sports is not a priority; sport for 12-18 yr olds is not part of the trusted school environment

-Costs of sports means that it is mainly a domain of the middle class; over the past 10 years, frees uniforms and travel has increased 69-92% while the CPI has increased 36%, which is almost double

The 12 – 15 dilemma

Primary school shelters kids - participation is part of the curriculum, there are NSO programs and usually an active after school program.

Yet kids, once they are out of primary school, lack opportunities and the above factors kick in.  It is a very fragmented environment.

Yet in all of this, there are good pilots in Local Government Associations of City o f Greater Dandenong’s – Brimbank, Shepparton and Whittlesea are examples. Little has been done in NSW.

SWB response

  •       Direct Grants – constituting 60% of our funding


It involves leadership and capacity building with LGAs, the community and trusted, experienced partners like CMY. We help schools to work with their peers and organize their sports activities and engage with local sporting clubs


  •       Linkage Model


-Information sessions for parents and kids on sport and its role in Australia

-Provide pathways to clubs; we aim to put 50 young people into clubs each year

-Major parties: Australian Sports Commission, Migrant Resource Centre (MRC), local communities, CMY and ourselves

-Advocacy and building awareness of issues and conferences

-Attack issue at school – Year 7 ,Pratt Foundation, Monash University, Secondary schools (Keysborough Secondary College), Local Government Associations and the community.

It is a process that empowers to identify and address major drivers and barriers to physical activity within schools, wider communities and aims to avoid disconnect between students expectations at school, their lives and the community.

The end result:

In Victoria, we had 240,000 worth of genuine applications from club and MRC’s etc on behalf of kids and families for young people to join clubs and obtain equipment in 2010, with soccer being the main sport

All we could offer was $60,000 in grants plus tell young people to be part of Department of Planning and Community Development program in certain LGAs to receive funding

 Sports Without Borders and National Sporting Organisations

 -We approached 5 NSO’s in 2010 as we saw gap in social inclusion agenda. 5 NSO’s agreed to social inclusion through the ‘SWB Social Inclusion Through Sport Program.” Whilst they saw value in program, their main objective was to get the government funding to their SSOs to increase participation.

Each agreed, save for the AFL, that they lacked experience in this space. The AFL has 16 multicultural officers. Proposal was sent off to the ASC and other NSO’s …. who had no budget and rejected it. 

Government chose to fund via NSOs, not third parties or involve SWB. But sports have latent experience and resources programs are limited and centered to awareness and promotion fans or elite talent.

SWB ends up funding most socially excluded kids – we do programs, then the kids wish to join clubs but we have no funds. In fact we have had a request from SSO’s to fund kids. Their funds tied to programs and the officer building awareness and interest; however, they lack pathways.

Overall – Concluding statements

 -Need sport to be recognized as part of settlement services and resources

-ASC and DIAC to appoint Multicultural officers

-Up skilling of SSCOs and personnel

-Recognition of third parties as key linkage and brokers for MRC – NSO’s etc

-Tie direct grants for fees and equipments to programs