Moreland City Council encouraging active women and girls
A challenging but successful and ultimately rewarding initiative from Vicsport’s local government member Moreland City Council, the quest to implement their Active Women and Girls Strategy began a decade ago.
Identifying the key challenges in sport, leisure and active recreation for women and girls within the municipality, Moreland City Council found that while 51% of their constituents identified as female, only 8% of that group were accessing council’s sports grounds.
To address the inequity, Moreland City Council introduced a Sportsground and Pavilion Allocation Policy.
This requested clubs to be more inclusive of women, juniors, people with a disability and people from culturally diverse communities or risk losing allocation of a ground.
Moreland was the first Council in Victoria to attempt to achieve this outcome through the policy and the response proved to be exceptional.
Conversations were had in person with clubs and associations to discuss their cooperation, challenges and potential outcomes.
While Moreland City Council admits some of those conversations were confronting and did not always equate to easy answers, the discussions were necessary to initiate any progress.
“The Active Women and Girls Strategy had three basic parts – Do. Think. Do.,” said Tamara Mason, Women's Sport Participation Officer at Moreland City Council.
“We went down to the clubs and asked what their challenges are and what they are trying to achieve. We then got them to think about how to implement those changes and the final part was to ensure action was undertaken.”
Mason’s role at Moreland City Council is a full-time position and she believes the ability to offer that personal touch is necessary for other councils looking to recreate their success.
From a participant point of view, Moreland City Council found that, once again, communication was the key.
“We wondered, ‘how do we get more women involved’,” Mason said.
“So we just asked them.”
Enquiring with female constituents at or around a local park, within the vicinity of a sporting event or where their male relatives and spouses were competing, Moreland City Council realised the biggest obstacles facing women were the lack of awareness and the simple fact that many willing partcipiants had never been offered an opportunity.
Once the question was raised and the facilities became more inclusive, women and girls soon discovered the array of sporting prospects open to them.
Since 2009, Moreland City Council has seen the number of females accessing council’s sports ground rise from 8% to 23% with that number not including those partaking in recreational exercise and those who are “finding their 30”.
A side benefit to this inclusion has seen the number of female volunteers around Moreland City Council sporting events increase as well.
“Again, these women wanted to be involved,” said Mason.
“We just had to ask.”
Find out more about Moreland City Council's Active Moreland initiative here.