Promoting and Providing a Welcoming Experience

It is important for your sport organisation to provide a welcoming and positive experience to everyone. This includes providing a welcoming first experience and creating a club culture which values inclusion. At the local level, inclusion programs are often driven by dedicated volunteers who drive the success of programs. These champions provide tremendous value to sports clubs and they should be supported by everyone in the clubs, including clubs committees, to ensure that inclusion is the responsibility of everyone involved.

Sport organisations should take a holistic approach to providing a welcoming experience to people with disability. To do this, you could consider providing resources, training and support to individuals at all levels of the sport, including committee members, administrators, volunteers, coaches, officials, families and participants.

Some actions your organisation can take include:

Training: Provide face to face training to your coaches to build their capability to work with people with varying abilities.

Resources: Consider providing communication tools, plain language fact sheets, best practice checklists and educational resources to sport the people who deliver your sport. Ensure you communicate these resources widely within your sport in different formats including written, visual and online and look to embed these into ongoing training or workshops (i.e. coach and official courses).

Specific club roles: Many sport clubs nominate an individual from the committee to be the Welcoming Officer whose role is to actively welcome new families and members to the club. You could also instigate a buddy system to pair new members with someone who can help them feel welcome in their first few months at the club. Another role employed by some clubs is a Community Liaison Officer whose role is to engage local community organisations and residents and promote opportunities at the club.

Social activities. Ensure the social aspects of your sport or organisation include activities and events that make everyone feel comfortable and welcome, regardless of their background or ability.

Leadership: Get your leaders, including committee members, coaches and others, to lead by example and create a culture that supports participation by people with disability (for more information see the Leadership section).

Understand the barriers. The are some common barriers that are faced by people in regard to participation in a variety of sports. A useful resource is this one from VicHealth: Understanding Barriers to Sport Participation. Another useful resource for clubs and associations is by La Trobe University called Be Prepared! Sport & Active Recreation Programs for People with disability - A Resource Kit for Volunteers and Staff.

For more information, check out the following State Sporting Association pages about supporting clubs to be more inclusive:

Gymnastics Victoria – Inclusive Resources for clubs

Cricket Australia – A Sport For All

Netball Australia – One Netball

Basketball Victoria - Inclusion