Past Conferences


On the 6th of May, 2016, the 6th National Community Sports Summit was hosted by Sports Without Borders and Our Community. The Summit held at the Moonee Ponds Racecourse, Melbourne and explored the theme ‘power of one’, encouraging people to make positive change in their communities. A fantastic line-up of speakers, each of them leaders within their communities, led us on a journey of harnessing our individual power to effect change. It gave people passionate about making sport more inclusive and diverse the unique chance to engage with experts and leaders in the industry and also celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Sports Without Borders providing support for new and emerging communities through sport.

The Summit kicked off with Paul Kennedy discussing the importance of diversity and inclusion in sports clubs. James Demetriou asked the delegates “What would you do?” if confronted with issues of social injustice. The frequency at which we are required to make these decisions determines the examples we set in society. Ron Murray once again delivered the ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ with the sounds of the didgeridoo filling the conference hall and a story about why koalas have no friends! 

Summit delegates were then introduced to the issue of culture change at sport clubs through research conducted by Ruth Jeanes and Ramon Spaaij, who are leading community sports academics. Jeanes and Spaaij identified the culture that we are trying to change and discussed the processes of how change occurs. Limitations to the power of one are that they take time and a lot of work. While persistence will get outcomes, the difficult shift is positively influencing the institution, the sports clubs. At the end of the day, the power of one is the catalyst for everlasting cultural change in a sports club. 

The stage was then set for a Q&A panel session facilitated by Angela Pippos. The topic was “The power of one: can an individual be more important than the team in creating change?” Tanya Oziel shared the knowledge she has gained running the AFL Peace Team which tackles the challenge of connecting Israeli and Palestinian people through sport. Carmel Guerra talked about how the people in her life influenced her actions today. Beverly Knight spoke frankly about her time with the Essendon Football Club and the responsibilities of board members in sport organisations. Francis Leach shared his wonderful insights on going against the grain and the powerful impact of individuals in American baseball leagues. 

Dr Simon Longstaff delivered the keynote address on what it takes to make a stand and influence positive change. He guided delegates through the reasons why we do the things we do, and how we can empower ourselves and those around us to believe in our bold actions. The power of sport is that it can help us to understand how we want to live our lives. 

Three distinctive afternoon workshops once again rounded out the day, giving participants hands-on and specialised advice. Julie-Ann Rose covered ‘Best Practice Governance’ for sport clubs. She explained how good leaders drive innovation and the importance of reputation. Paul Oliver showed how to change in a complex, evolving sporting environment. While diversity is the mix, he argued that ‘inclusion’ is getting the mix to work well together. Rochelle Eime discussed recent trends in sport participation, including the influences on participation and the value of sport. 

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In May 2015 Sports Without Borders and Our Community hosted the 5th National Community Sports Conference titled ‘I’m not Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, but… Stop. Think. Change’. This conference brought together key stakeholders across multiple levels of the sport and recreation industry, raising significant awareness surrounding discrimination in sport.  With a focus on racism, homophobia, disability and sexism this conference showcased the powerful role sport plays towards progress in society.

Keynote speakers Dr. Emma Sherry and Patrick Skene provided detailed insight into the impact of discrimination on the individual, club and community. Dr Emma Sherry informed the audience about social inclusion, intersectionality, challenged participant perception of equality or equity, and marginalised versus minority. Patrick Skene (who replaced Dr. Tim Soutphommasane as Keynote speaker) 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.

A panel discussion hosted by Jenny Brockie promoted a well-rounded and informed discussion on the issues of racism, homophobia and gender inequality in sport. The panel included Dermott Brereton; Jason Ball, ambassador for beyondblue; Gilbert McAdam, first Indigenous player to win the Magarey medal; Paul Oliver, consultant and discrimination expert; Rita Panahi, journalist; and Jenni Cole, CEO of Disability Sports Australia. The panel provided the audience with food for thought on some of the discrimination issues that plague our sports fields and clubrooms.

For further details on this remarkable Q&A session please see the article and the full 70 minute video:

2014 Conference: WIN OR LOSE - IS IT REALLY HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME? Click to expand

The 4th annual Sports Without Borders conference explored the controversial challenges and the culture of winning with a particular emphasis on finding an ethical compass in sport. Participants left the conference with hands-on strategies to deal with the day-to-day ethical dilemmas that result in sporting activity. The conference was held in the Moonee Ponds Race Course on Friday 2nd of May. It gave people passionate about increasing participation in sport the unique chance to engage with experts and leaders in the industry.

Dr. Pippa Grange, a leading sports ethicist and director of the consultancy group Bluestone Edge, spoke about the everyday ethical dilemmas arising from sporting activity and strategies to deal with them. Senator Nova Peris then took participants on a journey through the joys and tribulations of her career in elite hockey and athletics.

In addition, the conference speakers included state and federal government speakers, a Great Debate and various workshops. The sports technology expo during the lunch break got participants from all sectors talking and networking with like-minded professionals while viewing the sport technology expo organised by the Australian Sports Technologies Network. Participants discovered the latest tech innovations and apps for athletes, cyclists, sports club organisers and tech enthusiasts.

2013 Conference: Innovation in Community Sport - Learn, How, Now! Click to expand

The SWB 2013 Conference, held in June this year in the Moonee Valley Racecourse, focused on “Innovation in Community Sport: Learn How, Now!” The conference focused on how sports are changing, how sports clubs are innovating and how sports administrators, players, spectators and volunteers can help shape outcomes.

The conference included workshops and featured a number of notable speakers including Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty, CEO of Basketball Australia Kristina Keneally, Josh Vanderloo, Head of Community Participation at the AFL and  former ASADA CEO  Richard Ings.  Conference sponsors included, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), Victorian Government and the Australian Multicultural Foundation (AMF).

Unlike the previous two conferences, the 2013 National Community Sport conference also included a Great Debate featuring a number of high profile speakers such as Australian Netball legend Professor Russell Hoye from Latrobe University facilitated by Frances Leach from ABC Grandstand and Rita Panahi from the SEN. The topic of the Great Debate was “Australian Sporting Groups are letting the team down with ineffective financial and organisational management and poor engagement practices.”

2012 Conference: Sports for all from the ground up Click to expand

The theme of the SWB 2012 Conference, held in June 2012, was “Taking the Idea of Social Inclusion in Sports from Feel Good Theory to Real World Practice.”   The conference explored how alliances, partnerships, linkages and community practices can lead to active participation in sports and clubs by disadvantaged communities in Australia.

A wide range of notable speakers expanded on, reviewed and debated the conference theme including Phil Ruthven from IBIS, Minister for Sport Mark Arbib and Senator Kate Lundy. Unlike the 2011 conference the 2012 conference included workshops that disseminated best practice. The conference was also a springboard for the We’re All the Same Team (WAOTST) campaign.

Conference partners and sponsors for the 2012 conference were Our Community, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), the Australian Multicultural Foundation (AMF), the Victorian Government, FinPa Australia and Sporting Pulse.

2011 Conference: Sports for all from the ground up Click to expand

The inaugural National Community Sports Conference was held on the 27th of July 2011 at the Moonee Valley Function Centre.  The conference attracted 380 delegates from around Australia including sports groups and local and state government agencies involved in Australian sport.

The theme of the conference was “Social Inclusion in Sport for Australia’s Disadvantaged Groups”, focusing on strategies to better involve Australia’s disadvantaged groups including people from CALD, All Abilities and Indigenous communities and women into Australian sport.

A number of high-calibre speakers spoke at the conference such as Victorian Minister for Sport Hugh Delahunty, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Kate Lundy and various AFL stars. The audience played a large part in the conference through Q & A sessions. The conference sponsors were Resources for Courses, the Australian Sports Commission, Sporting Pulse, the AFL, Moonee Valley City Council and Grant Hackett as a representative for Westpac.

The conference was a huge success, with 97% of attendees saying that they would return to a similar event. The overwhelming success of the inaugural conference encouraged Sports Without Borders and Our Community to make the conference an annual event and two more conferences were held in 2012 and 2013.