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5th National Community Sports Conference – Managing discrimination in community sports

At the beginning of May, Sports Without Borders, in collaboration with Our Community, hosted the fifth National Community Sports Conference. The theme, I’m not Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, but… Stop. Think. Change, brought together sports administrators, sportspeople, club officials, volunteers, policymakers, government funders, and government and local government workers.

The morning was facilitated by ABC’s Paul Kennedy, and started with a performance and welcome to Country by celebrated didgeridoo soloist and storyteller Ron Murray. This presentation was followed by a presentation about passive non-discrimination in sport. La Trobe’s Dr Emma Sherry informed the audience about social inclusion, intersectionality, challenged participant perception of equality or equity, and marginalized versus minority. Dr Sherry did a wonderful job of communicating State Government Policy, Human Rights Commissions campaigns and her own research. Finally Dr Sherry invited us all to look ahead and enhance social inclusion at the individual, club and community level.

The morning finished with a fantastic Q&A Panel Discussion hosted by SBS Insight’s host, Jenny Brockie. A celebrated journalist, Brockie managed the panel well and drove the discussion through challenging issues of racism, gender inequality and homophobia. The panel included Dermott Brereton, former Hawthorn star and media personality; Jason Ball, ambassador for beyondblue; Gilbert McAdam, first Indigenous player to win the Magarey medal and co-host of Marngrook Footy Show; Paul Oliver, consultant and discrimination expert with experience with the Australian Sports Commission; Rita Panahi, journalist and uncompromising social commentator; and Jenni Cole, CEO of Disability Sports Australia and qualified therapist. The panel provided the audience with food for thought on some of the discrimination issues that plague our sports fields and clubrooms.

After lunch, which included an opportunity to engage with stalls set up by members of the Australian Sports Technology Network and Sports Without Borders sponsors and supporters, Patrick Skene from Red Elephant Projects took participants through the history of racism in sport in Australia. By examining the impacts, on participants and society as a whole, Skene brought us to the present and challenged the audience to think of where racism features: media, leadership and recruiting. Ending with the idea that racism requires a process to remove it from society, the audience was given a broad, overarching presentation that invited participants to identify and point out racism in their everyday lives, and sports communities.

After Skene’s presentation participants took part in informative workshops designed to empower grassroots sports. From fundraising to digital strategy to managing discrimination in sports clubs, participants interacted, discussed and learned key tools. The ‘Developing a Digital Strategy’ workshop was facilitated by Russell Morris from MyClubStore and presented by Andrew Walton from Interact Sport, Alex Mednis from Think Relativity and Dr Rochelle Eime from Sport and Recreation Spatial. Participants were given an overview on real world uses for social media. The ‘Getting More Money’ workshop by Patrick Moriarty from the Institute of Community Directors Australia, offered participants a tailored discussion around the perils of grant writing and merits of crowd funding. The ‘Strategies to Manage Discrimination in Clubs’ workshop invited participants to discuss and debate methods to tackle discrimination. Maria Dimopolous of Myriad Consultants facilitated the session, which saw three leaders facilitate sub-groups; Peter Downs, Patrick Skene, Nick Hatzoglou and Nick Cassidy.

Additionally, for the first time, the conference hosted a local artist, Lachlan Petras, who displayed his work titled PETRAS/DESPOTOVSKI. The artwork was the centrepiece of the art display that brought together photos from programs supported and run by Sports Without Borders. Accompanying the photos, SWB launched a Hero Story booklet, which featured in each conference show bag. Made possible by funding from PZ Cussons and Telco Together Foundation, this booklet contained 10 heart warming stories of individuals and organisations SWB has worked with in the last year.

The conference was a huge success with 300 participants, a handful of passionate speakers and 14 stalls (including 10 sports technology organizations). Special thanks go to the sponsors: Telco Together Foundation, La Trobe University, Acquire Learning, Fox Sporting Pulse, PZ Cussons, Municipal Association of Victoria, Australian Multicultural Foundation, Victorian Government and the Australian Sports Commission.

Check out photos from the event here and here.