Funding assists female Diversity Manager in promoting inclusion through sport
Creating change and promoting inclusion through sport is Juhi McInerney’s vision and main priority in her role as Diversity Manager at Cricket Australia.
Juhi is a leading female advocate for inclusion within sport and through this role; she is aspiring to create an environment where each person, regardless of their gender, ability or cultural background will be presented with the opportunity to achieve their goals.
To assist Juhi in implementing her vision and allow her to reach her leadership potential, she has been fortunate enough to receive a grant and scholarship as part of the Australian Government, Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women (SLGSfW).
The program, which is administered by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in conjunction with the Australian Government, provides support to females within the sports sector to reach their leadership potential.
In 2011-12, Juhi received an individual grant in which she was successful in receiving $5,000 to assist her in attending a three day residential course designed to maximise leadership potential.
One of the objectives of the course was to provide a foundation to assist individuals in reaching the next level of leadership. From the skills obtained from the course, Juhi was aided to achieve that objective.
‘The course was extremely beneficial for me and my role within the cricket landscape, which is typically male-dominated, I was able to take what I learnt and use it to inspire other women to realise their leadership potential ‘ Juhi said.
Juhi’s determination and leadership potential continued to grow and she has now secured a three year 2012-13 SLGSfW scholarship which she will commence in March this year.
Juhi said, ‘Following on from my grant, I knew there was more that I could learn, that’s why I applied for a scholarship, in which I outlined a three year pathway plan’.
Juhi’s first year will see her undertake an advanced leadership program which is designed to support rapid advancement of high potential female leaders.
‘I see this course as a way to accelerate my career progression. It relates to my day to day realities and challenges whilst aiding me in my goal to continue to inspire those from diverse backgrounds to realise their leadership potential’.
Juhi hopes to be an influential leader within sport, and encourages all women within sport wanting to progress their leadership potential to apply for a grant.
Newly appointed High Performance Director uses grant to assist her in reaching leadership potential
Recently appointed High Performance Director for Hockey Australia (November 2012), Tricia Heberle is a well accomplished leading female figure with over 22 years experience in the sports sector.
In 2012 Tricia received a grant through the Australian Government Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women (SLGSfW) to assist her in her professional development journey.
The scholarships are designed to assist established women in the sporting sector, further reach their leadership potential over a three year period.
Tricia saw the SLGSfW as an opportune way to balance her busy schedule as High Performance Director and allocate time for professional development.
‘Within my busy role at Hockey Australia, with a lot of associated travel, I found it hard to find time to commit to a traditional professional development plan’.
‘The scholarship program attracted me because I had a chance to set high value opportunities as well as establish a customised and flexible plan of activities which would ultimately assist me in my professional pathway,’ said Tricia.
From the assistance provided, Tricia embarked on a six month professional sabbatical in the United Kingdom. She took on a unique opportunity outside of Australia investigating high performance systems and planning for athletes and coaches in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Tricia identified this opportunity as a potential risk to her professionally and financially but, through the assistance of the scholarship and structured pathway, she knew that this unique opportunity was a way to strategically assist in developing and growing her sport.
Tricia used the time overseas to investigate high performance systems and planning, daily training environments, athlete pathways for team sport enhancement and high performance coaching and education training.
Through the experience and knowledge gained from her time overseas, Tricia encourages any women looking to further develop their skills and leadership within the sport sector to apply for a SLGSfW grant or scholarship.
‘Whether you are young and aspiring or more mature and have been in the industry for a considerable amount of time, any opportunity that presents itself for supported and targeted development is of benefit, so I absolutely encourage anyone who is suitable to apply!’
Tricia’s advice to women wanting to further develop their involvement in sport is to set goals, short, medium and long and keep revisiting them. Don’t be in a hurry and recognise the need to learn from both the positive and negative situations – reflection is critical!
Female scholarship recipient reflects on her outcomes from the last three years
Annabel Sides has always been passionate about sport, but it wasn’t until she had her first game of Water Polo at the age of 15 that she got hooked both in and outside of the pool.
Through her involvement within her club at Footscray Swimming and Water Polo Club, she was inspired by other members to involve herself in a number of volunteer administration and governance roles. Some of the roles she took on included managing state and national league teams, club sub-committee member, Water Polo Victoria Board member for five consecutive years, and now currently National Competitions Committee member for Water Polo Australia.
Her progression, experience and desire to deliver best practice within sport led Annabel to apply for a Sport Leadership Grant and Scholarship for Women (SLGSfW), in which she was successful in obtaining a scholarship in 2010.
Following a three year pathway plan, Annabel has been able to complete five courses which have helped her in developing skills in areas of leadership and administration as well as completing a Company Directors Course.
‘Each of these activities have given me a clearer understanding of the roles and responsibilities of board and committee membership and furthered my ‘toolkit’ of techniques to deal with various issues and situations,’ said Annabel.
Annabel praises the SLGSfW in allowing her to progress herself professionally and encourages other women to apply.
‘Sport doesn’t often have spare funds to support professional development. This opportunity can help women to develop their skills and opportunities which will in turn assist in developing their sports’.
Annabel also found the program beneficial in networking with other people in and outside of the sports sector.
‘The Leadership workshop as part of the program and the courses I completed was a great way to meet new people. You can bounce ideas off each other, gain support and learn from their experiences’.
Annabel is currently on maternity leave but is still continuing with her role on Water Polo Australia’s National Competitions Committee.
Grant assists first female in being elected to the Board of Cricket Victoria
Victorian Claudia Fatone has been fortunate enough to receive a grant under the 2010-11 Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarship for Women (SLGSfW) to assist her in her numerous roles within Cricket in Victoria.
From the age of 14, Claudia started playing cricket and four years later was part of her local club committee. From there she went onto study a Bachelor of Commerce (Sport Management) and then became involved in a volunteer capacity with the Victorian Women’s Cricket Association (VWCA), who she later secured full time position with.
Making a career change, after almost nine years with the VWCA, Claudia couldn’t let go of an organisation she felt so strongly for so decided to stand for election to join the Board of the VWCA. After two years on the Board, Claudia was elected President.
Claudia felt that to provide the most effective pathway for her sport, she needed to undertake further professional development to more effectively lead her organisation.
To assist her in this endeavour she applied for a SLGSfW grant and was successful in receiving just under $5,000 to attend a ten week Company Directors Course.
From the course Claudia strengthened her knowledge and skills but after completion she was fortunate enough to gain more than just that.
‘I wanted to strengthen myself professionally and develop myself in the area of governance and felt that this course would be able to assist me.’
‘Not only was I provided with these new skills but it also gave me the confidence to nominate for the Cricket Victoria Board, in which I was successful in obtaining a position’ said Claudia.
Claudia’s appointment in August 2011 was ground breaking as she was the first female to be elected in Cricket Victoria’s history.
Claudia praises the SLGSfW for providing her with the opportunity to broaden her development.
‘Without the assistance provided through the program, I wouldn’t have had the means to complete the course which would probably mean I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.’
Claudia’s goals for the future will see her contribute to the Board of Cricket Victoria for the final 18 months of her three year term, and following that she is hoping to be re elected to the board where she can continue to contribute to the growth of cricket within Australia.
Leadership grant places Danielle on the world stage
Twenty-one year old Victorian, Danielle Pascoe has become Australia’s second ever female National Yachting Judge.
Danielle received a $2,500 grant through the 2010-11 Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women program – a joint initiative of the Australian Sports Commission and the Office for Women that aims to boost the number of women in leadership roles.
The grant will allow her to gain more experience in judging at an international level by covering the cost of her National Judge’s qualification as well as attendance at several international meets.
‘I originally did my state judges course in 2008 just for something productive to do because I had a lot of rules and protest knowledge from hanging around juries and observing protests over the years.
‘Then in the National Judge exam I got the top mark and passed at National level and as ISAF want more female and younger judges I’ve received a lot of encouragement to do events and get my qualifications.’
With a father who is an International Sailing Judge, Danielle has been around sailing her entire life and made the decision to follow the officiating pathway to become more involved in the sport.
‘I have grown up travelling from regatta to regatta with my parents and for me it’s the social side of the regatta I really enjoy. I also love being out in the jury boat on the water in the middle of a really skilled fleet and watching the top sailors in action.’
Now that Danielle has a national qualification, she is set to gain more experience in top-class international events.
‘I went to the Laser Radial men and women’s World Championships in Scotland in July and the Hobie 16 Worlds in China in August.’
This range of international experience means Danielle will have the opportunity to work alongside some of the sport’s top officials and competitors.
‘I don’t have the time, drive, or funding to get to a point where I can frequently go to major interstate and international events as a competitor, but as a volunteer official I have a lot more opportunities.’
Danielle’s future plans include applying for her International Judge’s qualification and continuing to move up through the officiating ranks.
Her advice to other young women is, ‘Just do it. Don’t worry about whether you can or can’t do it, just give it a shot and do not be afraid to ask for help and advice.’
Inspiring women to score leadership roles in football
The ACT Football Federation (Capital Football) wants to inspire more women to realise their potential through football (soccer).
The organisation has received a $10 000 grant as part of the 2010-11 Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women program, a joint initiative of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and the Office for Women.
The grant will support a mentoring and development program for a group of ten women who are current or aspiring leaders in the areas of refereeing, club management and governance.
Capital Football CEO Heather Reid said the program is aimed at increasing the number of women in key positions in football and motivating other women to take on similar challenges and roles.
‘The program will bring valuable assistance to women in football, providing guidance through mentoring as well as ongoing support with development opportunities.’
Heather has been instrumental in forming, developing and promoting opportunities for women and girls in sport and physical activity, predominantly through football since 1978.
She has worked in management, consultancy and leadership positions for organisations such as Women’s Soccer Australia, Womensport Australia and the ASC as well as lecturing in sport management at the University of Canberra.
In 2000, Heather received the Australian Sports Medal for her contribution to sport and in 2006 she received the Margaret Pewtress Ausport Award for her work as a mentor and leader in advancing programs and opportunities for women in sport.
‘My goal has always been to lead a unified sport with a level playing field for all participants,’ said Heather.
In 2004, she was the first woman appointed as CEO of a State football federation. Since then she has led the integration of all aspects of football in the ACT – for male, female, junior, indoor and outdoor players along with referees and coaches.
Heather believes that whilst player participation and the opportunities available to women and girls has increased significantly in football, the severe lack of women in leadership, coaching and refereeing remains under-represented – like in many other sports, particularly the traditional male football codes.
‘The ASC grants and scholarships program is very important because it provides female coaches, referees, and managers the opportunities to embark on a pathway to sport leadership.
‘It supports their education, qualifications and lifelong involvement in sport.’
South Australian Gymnastics coaches given leg up
The Port Lincoln Gymnastics Club in South Australia has received a $3000 Sport Leadership Grant to assist its female coaches develop their skills.
The grant will provide the opportunity for eight female coaches to attend the 2011 Annual Gymnastics Educational Congress in Adelaide.
The Congress delivers a weekend of workshops, courses and information sessions to coaches, judges and Kindergym leaders involved with Gymnastics and Special Needs programs.
Meryl Davidson, gymnastics coach and club administrator, said that the grant will ensure all coaches are fully accredited, maintaining the high level of coaching offered through the club.
‘For Port Lincoln Gymnastics Club it is imperative that the coaches are up to date with their Technical Accreditation, current coaching practices and techniques. ‘
Meryl became involved in gymnastics when she first enrolled her children into classes.
‘I have always had a passion for gymnastics and my kids were always upside-down monkeys, I needed them to be safe in that environment and learn how to do tricks properly.
The club currently has around 400 members ranging in age and skill level.
‘I coach the National Development Program competition stream gymnastics levels one to six and have several mentors in Adelaide helping me learn higher level coaching skills.
The 2010-11 Sports Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women – a join initiative of the Australian Sports Commission and the Office for Women, have been presented to 117 individuals and organisations around Australia.
‘The grant will help us support the youth of Port Lincoln, relieve funding pressures and help us move forward as an organisation,’ Meryl said.
Female officials given the opportunity to lead
Kilsyth Basketball Association received an organisational grant (up to $10,000) as part of the Australian Sports Commission’s 2009-10 Sports Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women program allowing 15 of their female referees to participate in a Female Officiating Advancement program.
Kilsyth and Mountain District Basketball Association conducts competitions for over 1000 domestic teams per week with participants from around Victoria including the Yarra Ranges, Knox and Maroondah municipals.
The Female Officiating Advancement program was developed by Kilsyth Basketball to provide further development to younger female referees.
Business Development Manager of Kilsyth Basketball Mr Ben Turner said the program entails fortnightly seminars featuring a series of presenters covering topics on both sport and life skills.
‘The association has a strong development pathway that provides opportunities for coaches, referees and administrators to achieve success,’ Mr Turner said. ‘The grant allowed us to secure ten guest speakers and mentors who would inspire and support our female referees.
‘Funds were also used to send referees to Newcastle to officiate in the Australian Schools Championships where they received an intense week of officiating and education.
‘Prior to the program, we were having a lot of trouble progressing referees onto the junior state panel,’ he said. ‘The program has seen four females progress to the next level with further referees expected to progress in the next 12 months.’
The grants and scholarships are aimed at providing women in sport with support and access to leadership training and development opportunities to assist in establishing them in the sport industry.
‘There is definitely a gap for female coaches, referees and administrators within all sports and it is important to provide not only the programs but the structures to ensure they can progress and succeed,’ Mr Turner said.
The ASC’s Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships program has helped more than 16,500 women over the past eight years and focuses on individuals and organisations across Australia in the areas of coaching, officiating, governance, management, administration and communications and media.
Leadership grant helps female sports administrator excel
Rachael Roberts, General Manager of Swimming Australia’s Commercial and Communications section, is a 2009–10 SLGSfW grant recipient. She saw the grants as an opportunity to pursue her career ambition of sitting on the board of an organisation and used her funding to complete an intensive Australian Institute of Company Directors course.
Roberts gives the SLGSfW program high praise, crediting it with helping her take a major step towards becoming a leader in her field.
‘I have to say that gaining the grant was what drove me the most,’ Roberts said. ‘Being able to do the course has reinforced to me the serious commitment a director has to make. It requires as much dedication as any full-time job.’
The 32-year-old Canberran said attending the five-day governance course opened her eyes to the responsibilities board members have to their organisations and she believes such courses should be compulsory for anyone contemplating being on a board.
Roberts said her interest in becoming a company director stemmed from her work both with and outside of Swimming Australia.
‘I report to my board, so this course has helped me better understand the challenges and the environment in which they work and improves my work in that way, and it has helped me better appreciate the work of boards generally.’
She said she had been inspired by Swimming Australia Chief Executive and former Canberra Raiders CEO Kevin Neil who was not only a mentor but a ‘great advocate for women working at all levels in sport’.
‘I think women can offer diversity and another point of view in a male dominated boardroom and I am also young, so I have that knowledge of new work trends as well as the theoretical base behind it.’
Roberts’ project was one of 132 across the country to be supported by the Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women in 2009.
Leadership grants for women help CEO gain edge
When CEO of Women’s Golf Victoria, Bronwen Young, started with the organisation in April 2007, she could have been overwhelmed; balancing the intricacies of relationships between the volunteer board she reports to and the paid administrative team she manages. Instead, she saw the challenge as an opportunity to improve her leadership skills.
To help her realise this opportunity, Young made use of an Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Sport Leadership Grant for Women to take an emotional intelligence leadership course for middle and senior managers. Emotional intelligence (EI) techniques are used by managers to help them understand their own emotions, recognise the emotional states of other people and groups, and use that information effectively.
The ASC and Office for Women’s Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships are offered to inspire and assist women in the sports industry to reach their full potential in leadership, through education and development opportunities.
The three-day intensive residential program Young took with the Melbourne Business School focused on managers improving their EI skills, which, in turn, helps improve productivity and performance across business teams as well as enhancing their understanding of individuals when managing teams.
‘I have extensive business experience and have managed large teams in previous roles but I’m always keen to improve my skills and knowledge,’ Young said. ‘I felt that [this course] would help me better understand and manage the dynamic between my administrative team and the Board.’
Young said the course more than fulfilled her expectations.
‘I found it to be the most enlightening and enjoyable development program I have completed. The program has validated my management style and techniques … I have also learned valuable insights on how to improve my EI skills in the areas of emotional self-management and emotional self-control.
‘It is a way of improving my leadership capabilities for my current role and any future roles I may choose to take [and] I was delighted to get assistance from the Australian Sports Commission for part funding of the program.’
Young also negotiated a part scholarship with the Melbourne Business School and received funding from Women’s Golf Victoria to cover course costs.
Bourke swimmers benefit from grant recipient’s skills
Living on an 180 000 acre property 110 kilometres north-west of Bourke in 2005 understandably reduced Michelle Mort’s options for accessing swimming lessons for her two young sons.
Yet when Mort and her husband sold up and moved into Bourke in 2006, her options failed to improve.
The gap in services prompted Mort to start her own swim school and with little in the way of training, experience or resources, Mort relied on her own ‘get up and go’ attitude and help from the Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women program — a joint initiative between the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and the Australian Government Office for Women. The grants and scholarships are offered to inspire and help women in the sports industry reach their leadership potential through education and development opportunities.
‘I started with an AUSTSWIM Learn to Swim class which the ASC gave me a grant to attend, and while that was good, it didn’t really show me how to teach from really young kids right up to older people,’ Mort said.
She went on to gain her Infants Aquatics, Teaching Adults, Competitive Strokes, Green Licence swim coach accreditation and Bronze License Coaching Qualification, all with the ASC’s support, and in spite of the barriers presented by finding childcare for her sons and travelling as far away as the Gold Coast to train.
Now, Mort has gained further ASC support through the 2009–2010 Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women to complete a certificate course in training and assessment that will allow her to train swim coaches and timekeepers at the Bourke Amateur Swimming Club.
‘There is no one person around to train these people and getting anyone in to do that sort of training means we’ve got to get people from Sydney, over 900 kilometres away,’ Mort said.
‘The way I see it, the more accredited people we have around, the more everyone understands what they need to do, the better our club runs and the better off everyone will be.’
The 40-year-old remembers the enjoyment she had from recreational swimming in her youth, and wanted the same opportunities for her children, Barney and Charlie.
‘At the age of four, my kids had never been to a swimming pool,’ she said. ‘When we moved into town [Bourke] I thought, great, we’ll get them to lessons, but there was nothing around’.
She started a swim school in 2006 with 40 children. Now she has more than 100.
Ironically, she hasn’t formally taught either of her own children to swim. ‘They basically didn’t want to learn from Mum,’ she laughed. ‘But because they’ve spent so much time at the pool with me, they seem to have adapted well. My seven-year-old is actually swimming quite well.’
Mort said she gains great satisfaction from seeing ‘a huge pile of five and six-year-olds who are capable swimmers and a large number of younger children who are confident enough to get themselves out of the water if they fell into a pool’ as well as older children stepping up to squad training.
‘This is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,’ she said. ‘Seeing a little kid who’s scared of the water at the beginning of the season then swimming 10 or 25 metres is just amazing.’
Mort’s is one of 132 educational opportunities across the country to be supported in 2009 by the Sports Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women.
Women in football find common ground
‘Speed dating for mentors’ is just one of the original and practical ideas to come from a recent Women in Football Governance Workshop hosted by the West Australian Football Commission (WAFC).
The workshop — funded through the Australian Sports Commission and Office for Women’s Sports Leadership Grants — brought together 80 women including football administrators, volunteers, officials and paid employees.
They gathered to reflect on barriers to women becoming more involved as leaders in football and to discuss options for addressing those barriers.
WAFC Human Resources Manager Kate Rippon said the speed dating concept was suggested as a novel way to help potential mentors and mentees find common areas of interest and complementary skills.
‘Mentoring was something that came up a few times during group discussions,’ she said. ‘I think it was because a lot of women commented on the challenges in finding a mentor.
‘Another idea that came from the group discussions was to develop online forum access as part of a facilitated process like a database, so that women could tap in and search for a mentor in a specific field.’
Rippon said other ideas to come from the workshop included hosting more governance discussions and offering workshops on time management to help women deal with their work–life balance.
‘What we’ll do now is flesh out and prioritise some of these options, look at potential strategies and take them to appropriate boards and industry management for approval.’
She said the feedback on the event had been 100 per cent positive. ‘We set out to help inspire and encourage more women to put their hands up for leadership roles … to help them see that doing so can also be of help in their professional lives. We also want football to be broadening its skills set, injecting a different level of enthusiasm and making it attractive for talented women to come to the [Board] table.’
The governance workshop included the following speakers and panel members:
- Jan Cooper, the first national female football manager appointed by the Australian Football League (AFL)
- The Hon. Julie Bishop, MP, the first female board member of the West Coast Eagles Football Club
- Kate Grieve, the first female board member of the Fremantle Football Club
- Linda Muir, Director AFL Canberra Board
- Catherine Vandeweide, first female president of a WA country football league
- Professor Helen Parker, first female WAFC board member
- Jo Davies, Chairperson of the East Perth District Football Development Council
- Kate Don, Vicsport Women in Sport Officer responsible for the Women on Boards — Good Governance Project.
Rippon said the governance workshop was a ‘first’ in football and could not have been possible without the support of the Australian Sports Commission and the Office for Women.
‘My role was initially to look at key professional development that could reach across the industry, but there’s not a huge budget for that. With the grant we were able to expand our focus, develop something incredibly worthwhile, make it viable and run it.’
The WAFC project is one of 132 across the country to be supported in 2009 by the Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women.
Judo referee to take on the world
For Deepali Mistry, judo has been central to her life since her brother Nitin encouraged her to start playing the sport at the age of three.
Now 33 years later and one of two active Australian female International Judo Federation (IJF) Continental Referees, Mistry is looking to immerse herself even further in the upper echelons of the sport.
With the help of a Sports Leadership Grant from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and Office for Women, Mistry is preparing for an IJF A refereeing license in 2011 that will allow her to referee at world championships and Olympic Games.
If successful, she will be the only active Australian woman referee at that level. But it’s no small task.
Mistry needs to attend ten international events in Europe and Asia over three years to build the necessary international experience, and with judo referees even at international level having to fund their own travel as volunteer officials, the financial strain alone is immense.
‘Last year I funded myself to attend one of the ten required tournaments at the European Men’s World Cup in Estonia,’ Mistry said. ‘The sports leadership grant is very important in that it helps me fund travelling, and continue working toward my goal. There is also an age limit of 50 to getting an international license. You have to work through four levels before being eligible to referee at the Olympics, so it is important to continue progress.’
Mistry hopes to use her new status and skills to influence and encourage women at state and national level.
‘Although we can see there is more encouragement for female referees at the international level in recent years, judo refereeing still has very few female referees.
‘To develop quality female referees at the top level of the sport I believe they need more exposure to high pressure refereeing situations which help sharpen and tone skills.’
She said female referees were often doing refereeing as their ‘third job’, juggling responsibilities as mothers, partners and paid employees.
‘I think there is a need to make a conscious effort to create a more female/family friendly environment in refereeing at all levels. But I also think as a female referee, we need to manage our time to give more commitment to the sport.
‘Women also need to make more effort in encouraging fellow female referees. I guess once we start seeing female referees in higher positions, slowly we will see the shift.’
Mistry said she had been inspired by many international female and male referees along the way. But it was the encouragement of her mother Anjali Rakshe, who ‘set an example to believe in myself and live my dreams’, and the support of husband Nosh and daughter Elisha, that allowed her to make the transition from national medallist player to international referee.
‘Judo is not only a sport for me but also a way of life,’ Mistry said. ‘I love it as it has developed me not only as player and a referee, but also as an individual. Judo has given me discipline, life experience and best of all allowed me to travel and meet interesting people.
‘I thoroughly enjoy the pressure and challenge involved in refereeing.’
Surfing Australia seeks out the next wave of women
World surfing champion Layne Beachley, professional surfers and local club participants were among 30 stakeholders who stayed well and truly grounded at a recent workshop in Sydney to discuss the future of surfing women in Australia.
The October workshop was the first of two to be hosted by Surfing Australia to examine how the sport can encourage more women to be involved.
Both workshops are being supported through the Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women program — a joint initiative of the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Government Office for Women.
Surfing Australia Sports Development Manager Chris Symington said the sport was committed to providing pathways for all participants.
‘Surfing is not a gender-specific sport,’ he said. ‘However our ratio of female members to male members is still lower than where we would like it to be, so we felt it necessary to hear from a range of female stakeholders on how we can address this issue.
‘Firstly we just wanted to open up discussion about what these women felt were barriers to entering the sport and how the administration might go about breaking down these barriers.’
Among the barriers identified by workshop participants were lack of financial support; lack of media exposure; the need for better structure for women’s participation; and the generally male-dominated officiating, governance and administration system.
Symington said one overwhelming message from women was the need for them to have more representation on Boards so that they have a voice.
He said that as a direct result, Layne Beachley had recently been appointed to the Surfing Australia Board.
However, it was too early to forecast any other strategic outcomes resulting from the initial workshop.
‘[The workshop] was more about gathering ideas and the follow-up workshop, which should take place in April, will take this initial information and frame it in a more strategic context,’ Symington said.
He added that the reaction of participants to the process had been very positive.
‘They were glad to have the opportunity to put their point of view forward. The Australian Sports Commission grant for the workshop was very useful [in that] we were able to show our female members that we value their participation and continue to look at ways of growing their involvement.’
Surfing Australia’s project was one of 132 across the country to be supported in 2009 by the Sport Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women.
AFL leader commends leadership grants for women
Diana Taylor is a remarkable AFL administrator and leader who serves on the Board of the Geelong Football Club. Diana is one of 13 women who received a scholarship through the Australian Sports Commission’s Sports Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women (SLGSfW) 2009–10 program. The SLGSfW program was established as a way to assist women to reach their leadership potential on the sporting stage as coaches, officials and administrators.
Diana, who works as a commercial lawyer in Melbourne, has achieved a lot within Australian rules football. She was the first woman to be appointed to the Victorian Football League tribunal and appeals boards and the first female president of a men’s Melbourne metropolitan football league (the Western Region Football League, 2008-09). As president of the Western Region Football League, Diana established the Women’s Football Foundation, an organisation that encourages and promotes the role of women in Australian rules football.
Earlier this year Diana was appointed to the Board of the Geelong Football Club. To help her prepare for this role she used her SLGSfW scholarship to fund study towards a diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors and to take a media training course.
Diana has found the SLGSfW program extremely valuable. She is especially enthusiastic about the residential leadership workshop, in which she participated in October last year.
‘The residential weekend enabled me to take time out to focus on what is important to me in sport, what I want to achieve and how I might achieve these goals.’
‘It is an invaluable part of the scholarship experience and also provided me with the opportunity to meet many inspiring women from across Australia who are passionate about sport and want to take on greater leadership roles within their respective organisations.’
Diana believes the SLGSfW program offers women remarkable opportunities to grow as leaders in sport that have never previously been available and encourages any woman who wants explore their leadership potential to apply.