Culture and Environment

It is important that your sport organisation develops a culture and environment where everyone is welcomed, valued, and respected. There are many actions your organisation can take to build a positive culture in your sporting organisation.

Your organisation should have a mission statement which explains why you exist. Many sport organisations are now referencing inclusion in their overall mission statement. For example, Cricket Australia’s vision is to be ‘Australia’s favourite sport – a sport for all Australians’. Netball Victoria’s mission statement is ‘we exist to enrich Victorian communities through the sport of netball.

Many sport organisations are working to open up their sport to previously under-represented population groups, which includes people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, women and girls, LGBTIQ communities, older adults and Aboriginal Victorians.

Therefore, Vicsport recommends that your vision or mission statement reflects a commitment to include everyone in your sport. This commitment should be reflected across:

  • Your strategic plan.
  • Business and marketing plans.
  • Your website and social media communications.

If your organisation would like to reference your commitment to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds you could consider adding it as a strategic pillar or objective. Sport clubs could also express a strategic direction to be reflective of the local community.

  • Example 1: (sport organisation) is committed to creating healthy sporting environments that are safe, accessible, inclusive and equitable. This commitment involves a focused approach to actively encourage and support the participation of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in all aspects of our sport.
  • Example 2: (sport organisation) is committed to creating healthy sporting environments that are safe, accessible, inclusive and equitable. This commitment involves a focused approach to ensure our club/association is reflective of our local community in our membership, volunteers and leadership.

Remember to include measurable objectives in your strategic plan, so that you have a target to work towards.

  • Example 3: (sport organisation) will increase participation by newly arrived migrants or refugees by 5% in (insert program or competition and year).
  • (sport organisation) will increase the number of coaches from the (insert community) by 2% in (insert year).

Clear boundaries need to be set around acceptable attitudes and behaviours. A successful sport rejects discrimination, harassment and bullying towards everyone.

Codes of conduct and other policies addressing inappropriate behaviour and unfair decision making must be in place, communicated and enforced by leaders throughout the organisation. In Victoria, it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their race or religious beliefs (click here to learn more about personal characteristics that are protected through discrimination laws).

The State Government of Victoria has a Fair Play Code which outlines the standards of behaviour expected for everyone involved in sport and recreation. You can read more here.

It's important to understand discrimination laws, what it means for organisations and how to comply with it. Your organisation should be aware that it is unlawful to discriminate against people from various areas of life, including employment and sport. If you would like to learn more, visit the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website.

A very important area of consideration when developing policy is the Victorian Government’s Child Safe Standards. Victorian legislation mandates that organisations which provide services and facilities for children under the age of 18 must comply with 7 standards to create child safe environments. The act says that organisations should consider specific actions to support the safety of children from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds, as the ‘Betrayal of Trust’ inquiry found they are at higher risk of abuse. Vicsport has a range of resources to support your organisation to meet the Child Safe Standards. Click here for more information.

There are many practical steps your organisation can take in terms of small changes to policy and practice to ensure you create a welcoming and inclusive culture:

  • Community consultation. Consulting with the local community, such as with newly arrived migrants or refugees, has great benefits for everyone. It provides a voice for people with migrant or refugee backgrounds in the decision-making process. It can improve the quality of your programs by providing useful insights to tailor programs to the needs of the local community. The Centre for Multicultural Youth has a useful resource about consulting with migrant and refugee youth. Click here to read more.
  • Translated resources. You can consider providing resources that promote your sport in multiple languages. This will make it easier to communicate your message to people who do not speak English or for whom English is a second language. The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) runs a health translation service that provides a range of resources translated into multiple languages. Sport organisations can contact CEH to discuss adding resources to the directory. Two sport related examples include the Welcome to the AFL resource and the Want to join a sporting club? resource.
  • Translation services. The Australian Government’s Multicultural Access & Equity program delivers the national Translating and Interpreting Service. This service includes a 24-hour phone interpreting service which in most cases is free non-English speakers. Click here for more information.
  • Review policies and procedures. Review your constitution, membership rules, member protection policy or other policies to remove discriminatory clauses or unfair language and protect the rights and representations of your members regardless of their race or religious beliefs. Ensure you use feedback gathered through consultation to inform any policy changes or new policies.
  • Facilities. Ensure your facilities, including your office building, are accessible for people from diverse backgrounds who have a disability and that your club has female friendly changeroom facilities. In addition, think about what signage you can provide to help people from diverse backgrounds feel welcome. This could include common signage translated into other languages.
  • Be understanding. Inappropriate language or other forms of discrimination may or may not be intentional. Regardless, certain actions or behaviours can cause offence or be discriminatory. Remember that people need to be educated about inclusive practices and behaviours, and this may take time for your organisation’s leaders to embed in your culture.
  • Work in partnership within your sport. Evaluation of the State Sport Association Participation Program found that inclusive environments are best supported when there is a strong partnership between national and state sport organisations. In addition, state bodies such as Cricket Victoria and Tennis Victoria found that empowering clubs and volunteers to be inclusive of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds was a key success factor in increasing participation in their respective sports and creating inclusive environments.