Research to better understand the barriers to sport as a tool for social inclusion

University of Melbourne researcher Dr Karen Block has set out to identify a best practice model for promoting social inclusion for refugee-background youths through sports participation.

Motivated by the young people she interviewed for her PhD research, Dr. Block is working to better understand and identify the barriers to sport faced by young people from new and emerging communities. The research assesses different models for promoting sport as a tool for social inclusion and focuses on the creative ways in which some clubs and community organisations seek to overcome the barriers she heard of, like cost, transport, and lack of understanding of the sports clubs.

By looking at the objectives, barriers and facilitators of different models, Dr. Block is able to assess their sustainability and better understand the experiences of participants. The research looks at short term and long term goals under the broad agenda of sports as a tool for social inclusion.

Dr. Block’s research will cover various sports, like netball, basketball, Australian rules football and soccer in diverse locations within Melbourne. In particular, she is interested in investigating the different benefits and objectives associated with three broad models for participation:

  1. Refugee specific sports programs
  2. Ethno-specific sports clubs
  3. Mainstream sports programs and clubs

By interviewing staff and representatives from various sports organisations, along with young people from new and emerging communities, Dr. Block will gain insight into the social landscape of sports programs.

Made possible by philanthropic funding, this research aims to identify the principles of best practice and work with sports clubs and community organisations to implement, evaluate and potentially scale up these programs.

Sports Without Borders looks forward to the outcome of the research, and commends Dr. Block for her efforts to better understanding the complexities of sport as a tool for social inclusion for new and emerging communities.

For any additional information about the research, please contact Dr. Karen Block, Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health: