Vicsport set a gold standard at the Australian Pride in Sport Awards

Vicsport is proud to have been recognised as a Gold Sporting Organisation at the 2024 Australian Pride in Sport Awards, recognising the work achieved in the previous calendar year to make the Victorian sporting industry more accessible for the LGBTIQ+ community.

Each year, Pride in Sport create a national benchmarking tool for LGBTIQ+ inclusion through their Pride in Sport Index. Driving best practices and setting comparative standards for sporting associations and clubs, the Index allows organisations to submit their work completed in Diversity and Inclusion spaces which is then tallied and scored out of 100.

A score of 60+ earns organisations Gold and Vicsport achieved that mark this year.

“I, and the whole team, are extremely proud,” said Participation and Inclusion Manager, Michaela Cook who has led the initiative.

“Coming into the organisation at the start of 2022, Vicsport had only started their rainbow inclusion journey so to get to this point, this quickly, is really pleasing. It’s something we have achieved due to the buy-in from the entire staff, which is tiny but mighty. While there are still improvements to be made, the whole organisation understands and are committed to improving, which is amazing.”

Utilising the Index to create an LGBTIQ+ action plan has greatly benefited Vicsport’s work but conversations with members have been just as important to formulate a plan for sustainable change.

“We identified a lot of opportunities by talking to our members, discovering what their needs are, where the gaps are and what education can be provided for them to then pass on to their own members,” said Michaela.

“Those conversations led us to put together a Trans and Gender Diverse Inclusion education session in 2023. With that session, we ensured there was an ally lens which provided Victorian sporting organisations tips and tricks that they could use to drive and influence change in their individual sports and organisations.

“We had also noticed a large overlap of participation and inclusion staff who working within the child safety and integrity space so we merged those topics for our Wear It Purple Day event last year, aiming to minimise workloads and enact true change.”

A modification in the formation of the Index last year saw organisations required to complete an initial Foundation Document before moving to the Advanced Document which posited more questions and delved deeper into inclusion actions undertaken.

For those sports just starting on their rainbow journey, Michaela believes the Foundation Document now provides the perfect starting-off point.

“We had not even opened the Advanced Document until we received our Foundation results but once we started, we realised we had organically ticked off a lot of sections and I think organisations will find themselves in a similar situation, even if they are just starting out.

“The Index also identifies potential gaps, opportunities for improvement and ways to overcome challenges. It’s a great tool for not only staff but for boards to see where their sport is sitting in terms of LGBTIQ+ inclusion. There’s a natural competitiveness for a lot of us who work in sport as well which can help achieve complete buy-in from an organisation who want to beat other sports around them or even just their own score year upon year.”

The challenge is now present for Vicsport to not only maintain Gold status but to improve on the overall score in the next Index.

“As a peak body, our role is to ensure all Victorians find opportunities to play, be active and feel safe in the sport they choose,” said Michaela. “We also support our members to provide those safe and inclusive opportunities so we must lead by example.”

“Now, we want to remain consistent by taking home the Gold award every year and proving that we are true allies and advocates in this space.”

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