Sport and recreation

Victorians love sport. As a highly visible and valued part of our state's culture and identity, sport has the capacity to challenge gender stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes and to promote core values of fairness and respect. Having more women involved in sport and recreation is important in promoting health and wellbeing, and improving social cohesion and inclusion.


Sport is a powerful vehicle for change

Sport can change the way women and girls see themselves and the way communities perceive them. Seeing girls play sport challenges gender norms and assumptions about the capability, status and value of women and girls. It can also be a great leveller, helping people see beyond their prejudices and helping to break down barriers.

Sport also plays a powerful role in bringing communities together and enhancing social connectedness and cohesion. This can be the case particularly in regional and rural Victoria, where sporting clubs are often focal points for their communities.

Empowerment and good health

Sport is critical to female empowerment and good health

Physical activity improves mental and physical health, confidence and self-esteem. The benefits of sport and recreation are particularly significant for women and girls, who are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, and are more likely to suffer lower self-esteem and body image issues.

Gender gaps persist

Female participation rates in sport and recreation are lower than those of men. This trend begins at an early age and persists into adulthood.

Gendered barriers to participation include: fewer opportunities to participate, competing time demands, prohibitive costs, discomfort with uniform requirements, fewer career opportunities, discrimination, racism and the fear of being judged by others.

Women also lack access to appropriate facilities. Many sporting facilities do not have female change rooms, are not accessible to women and girls, or are only available at inconvenient times.

Women are under-represented in sports leadership positions, making up only 29% of executive officers in State Sporting Associations. Gender inequalities also persist in the sports media, with accounts of men in sport making up 93% of total television sports coverage. There is also a gender gap in the financial rewards and sponsorship opportunities available to elite athletes, with the majority of Australian female elite athletes unable to participate in their chosen sport on a full-time basis due to insufficient earnings.

Early actions

  • Work with State Sporting Associations and other appropriate partners to pilot gender equality and prevention of family violence education in grassroots sporting clubs, using sporting ambassadors
  • Work with local government and State Sporting Associations to promote equitable treatment of men and women in the provision of and access to infrastructure and facilities
  • Include consideration of expenditure on sport and sporting infrastructure, including in educational facilities, as part of the introduction of gender impact analysis
  • Create an Advisory Committee in partnership with Department of Health and Human Services and specialist organisations to address family violence and gender inequality through sport
  • Call on the Commonwealth Government to mandate a minimum amount of coverage of female sport by the ABC.