Shire considers first Fair Access Policy

April 1, 2024 BY

The Surf Coast Shire has previously identified the need to improve participation in sport for all genders and abilities. Photo: CHARLIE YOUNG

THE Surf Coast Shire will aim to provide equitable access to all its sporting faciliries through its first Fair Access Policy.

Councillors considered a report on the draft Fair Access Policy at their meeting on Tuesday this week.

According to the report presented to councillors, all Victorian councils must develop and endorse a Fair Access Policy using the Fair Access Policy Roadmap from July 1 to be considered eligible to receive infrastructure funding from the Victorian government.

“These policies will ensure that women and girls can fully participate in and enjoy the benefits of community sport, with fair opportunity and access to their local facilities.”

The Fair Access Policy Roadmap, released by the Victorian government, is an Australian first and intends to deliver equitable access to publicly owned community sports infrastructure across the state, helping to level the playing field for women and girls in community sport.

The shire has previously identified the need to improve participation in sport for all genders and abilities.

The proposed Fair Access Policy will formalise this process, and “aims to progressively build the capacity and capabilities of the council and community clubs and groups in the identification and elimination of systemic causes of gender inequality in policy, programs, communications, and delivery of services in relation to community sports infrastructure,” officers stated.

In the Surf Coast Shire, the policy will apply to the following sports infrastructure:

  • Sports and recreation pavilions
  • Outdoor recreational grounds and reserves (suich as playing surfaces, ovals, pitches, greens, tracks, wickets)
  • Indoor sport and recreation stadiums (such as courts and multi-purpose indoor areas)
  • Outdoor and indoor aquatic facilities
  • Outdoor sport and recreation courts
  • Practice facilities (such as cricket practice nets and training areas)
  • Equestrian reserves and riding facilities
  • Golf facilities
  • Park exercise equipment, and
  • Bike parks/tracks.

The report cites three findings from Change Our Game State of Play Survey in 2022-23 to support the need for a Fair Access Policy:

  • 28 per cent of women have considered leaving their club due to inequitable treatment
  • Women are 2.5 times more likely to report feeling unwelcome at their sporting club compared to men, and
  • Many Victorian women and girls do not have access to the best courts or grounds, have facilities of lesser standard, or are relegated to less convenient competition and training times.

The report notes the intent of the Fair Access Policy was not limited to sport, and better access could be applied across all of the shire’s community places, spaces and programs.

“However due to strict timelines and the level of maturity of the Fair Access Policy, full integration across all places, spaces and programs is not possible at this time.

“Therefore, a shorter review period of two years will be applied to this first-generation policy, allowing for future integration to be considered.”

The shire will exhibit the draft policy for four weeks and finalise the policy based on any community feedback.

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