The VicHealth evaluation of the State Sport Association Participation Program found that time, cost, location and transport are the main barriers to participation, particularly for people not currently involved in sport. Therefore, sports need to consider ways to overcome or work around these barriers.
There are common approaches being used by sport organisations across the country to make sport activities more accessible to everyone. These approaches apply to all users, and therefore can benefit your aim to increase participation by Aboriginal people.
Make sport fun
Feedback from sport organisations working with Aboriginal people, and surveys such as the AusPlay national participation survey, have highlighted that a key driver for people to get involved in sport is the social connections and friendships they make, and the joy of participating together. The power of a fun environment should never be underestimated.
Part of making sport fun is having coaches who know how to adapt and modify programs. The Australian Sport Commission has information to support coaches to be inclusive here.
Sporting participation can at times be expensive, and where there is a lack of affordability this becomes a barrier to participation. Costs for competition entry fees, club memberships, equipment and travel have been identified as barriers to sporting participation from many different population groups.
Your organisation can help people participate by offering financial assistance where possible. This may be enabled by a grant you receive from the state government, your local council, or your state sporting association. Some Aboriginal community organisations offer financial assistance to members of their local community to play sport, so having a connection with local organisations may assist you to capitalise on the support available.
It is very important to ensure you are equal in your approach. Financial assistance should be available for all who need it. A universal approach to providing financial support means there is less chance of stigmatising particular groups and ensures a greater take up of support from those who would otherwise not participate due to financial barriers. You might also consider providing variable fee structures for different activities, or staggered payments for memberships, thereby providing greater flexibility for interested participants.