Culturally and Linguistically Diverse People

In Victoria, despite many newly arrive persons and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds being involved in sport and active recreation, there is still a gap in the participation rates when compared to the broader population.

In 2016 the Australian Sport Commission released the AusPlay survey. The survey provides data for the sports industry about participation rates in both organised and non-organised sport. AusPlay asks survey respondents if they speak a language other than English at home. Data released in 2016 showed that people who spoke a language other than English at home were less likely to participate in sport or physical activity than those who spoke only English:

  • Adults who speak a language other English at home are 10% less likely to participate in sport or active recreation activities at a rate of 3 times per week.
  • Children who speak a language other than English at home are 14% less likely to participate in sport or active recreation at least once per year (outside of school hours).

(Source: Australian Sport Commission, Clearinghouse for Sport, Cultural Diversity in Sport, 2018)

With almost 50% of our population either born overseas or with a parent born overseas, there is an enormous opportunity to engage more people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in sport. There are a range of actions that sports can take to be more actively inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds, including getting to know and understanding the local community, forming partnerships and providing a welcoming experience.

Sporting participation can be a great way for newly arrived persons to connect with each other and with the communities in which they settle. The way sport organisations support newly arrived communities to participate may differ from longer-settled communities such as second or third generation migrants. There are benefits to both sport organisations and individuals. The benefits to newly arrive migrants or refugees include:

  • The health benefits of physical activity, including a decreased risk of chronic disease.
  • Mental health benefits including reduced stress and increased self-esteem.
  • Reducing social isolation and helping build social connections.

Sport organisations, including clubs and associations, can also benefit by engaging newly arrived refugees and diverse communities. Some of the documented benefits include:

  • Increased membership, volunteers and participation.
  • Increased knowledge of other cultures, which can build cross-cultural understanding and mutual respect.
  • Developing more welcoming and accessible environments, which can benefit the organisation’s broader approach to increasing participation through engaging the local community.

You can read more about the benefits of refugees participating in sport in the Refugee Council of Australia’s A Bridge to a New Culture: Promoting the participation of refugees in sporting activities report.

The Centre for Multicultural Youth is an organisation leading the charge for greater diversity in sport with a focus on youth. Their Game Plan resource provides valuable information being a culturally inclusive club and engaging diverse youth. Click here to view the resource. You can also watch a speech from their CEO Carmel Guerra from the 2016 Inclusion & Diversity in Sport forum.

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