Bowls Victoria rolling out their Inclusion Action Plan (IAP)

With Social Inclusion Week (21 - 29 November) upon us it is great opportunity to highlight the work that our members are implementing to address the issue of inclusion.  The case study below  highlights the work Bowls Victoria are undertaking to make their organisation and programs more inclusive whilst ensuring these initiatives are both successful and sustainable.  This has been made possible with funding from Sport and Recreation Victoria.  Bowls have been working with Vicsport consultants and using the Vicsport planning tool to create an Inclusion Action Plan (IAP) that provides a greater understanding of their current position allowing for the creation of implementation strategies to roll out better programs and ultimately a more inclusive organisation. Each Sport and Recreation Victoria funded Association develops their own plan, making it unique to the sport.  To assist in the development of IAPs, Vicsport created a planning tool allowing associations to conduct an audit of their current programs and liaise with stakeholders to identify any potential gaps and how they will address these.  The IAP is  broad and examines a variety of groups including disability, CALD, indigenous, women and mature adults. Q & A with Scott Nicholas, Special Projects Coordinator, Bowls Victoria Where did the need for an IAP stem from? Bowls Victoria had been working on a number of initiatives to develop a more inclusive working environment and to improve opportunities for everyone in the community to access our sport.  Although the organisation had been doing some great work in this space, we sought to develop an Inclusion Action Plan to ensure this work would be sustainable and ensure inclusion was embedded within the organisation into the future. What steps were involved in the planning and implementation stage? Vicsport assisted us by guiding us through the process and providing us with an audit tool and guidelines. Before we started thinking about what we wanted to achieve through the development of an IAP, we needed to get a clearer understanding of where we were currently at. We broke up the questions in the Inclusion Audit tool and consulted a broad range of stakeholders to ensure we received input from a variety of different groups. We ran two sessions with our staff, gathering evidence and suggested actions from each and every staff member.  Vicsport facilitated a similar session with our board of directors, which again provided broader ideas and evidence.  A number of other stakeholders were also consulted, including representatives from clubs and regions, and from metropolitan and regional areas, to ensure we got a better understanding of the impact of some of our current work, and what might be seen as key focuses within club land. This, thorough consultation, left us with a broad range of possible actions that could make up our IAP. These actions were then prioritised by identifying links to strategic priorities outlined in our Strategic Plan.  Doing this ensured that our actions will not only compliment our current work, but go a long way to ensuring our IAP is embedded across the organisation, and is a key focus of all areas of operation. Was there any training was involved? Given we had previously undertaken training with staff to increase their awareness and understanding of what it means to be an inclusive organisation, we didn't undertake any other training as part of the process. What has been implemented? The first action to be implemented was having inclusion added as a standing agenda item in meetings of the Bowls Victoria Board of Directors, highlighting the commitment throughout the organisation. What were the outcomes from the IAP? The key outcomes from our IAP and process will be having inclusion reflected across the organisation focusing on three of our five key strategic priorities: Communications, Leadership and Governance, and Club Support. What were the key learnings from the IAP process? One of the positives to come from this process has been the involvement of all staff members contributing to the plan.  Seeking and receiving this buy-in during the consultation and audit phase will go a long way to making these initiatives come to fruition and highlight the positive outcomes of our previous staff training. The only real difficulties came when gathering evidence and ensuring that assumptions weren't used as evidence.  To ensure this wasn't the case we involved a number of different stakeholders and where possible utilised evidence and data to ensure that all possible actions came as a result of proper evidence. If you have any queries regarding Bowls Victoria’s IAP please contact: Scott Nicholas Special Projects Coordinator E:

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