Bridging the gender gap in sport

Published on 16 June 2021

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Indigo Shire is taking positive steps towards bridging the gender gap in community and professional sports with a number of sporting clubs and facilities focusing on upgrading their amenities to be more female and family friendly.

VicHealth statistics (Sport Participation in Victoria 2019) show that the percentage increase in women participating in sport is growing at twice the rate of men.

Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O’Connor says these statistics show that change is occurring and the focus on female friendly facilities is not only welcome, but due.

“It’s really exciting to see that the gap in participation rates between males and females is closing and we will do everything we can to advocate for further funding opportunities in Indigo Shire to encourage women across all ages to get involved, and stay involved in local sport.”

Barkly Park in Rutherglen was one of the first local sporting facilities to successfully receive grant funding to upgrade its facilities to be more female and family friendly.

With a grant through the Community Sports Infrastructure Fund – Sport and Recreation Victoria – Female Friendly Facilities ($100,000 from State Government and $126,000 from Indigo Shire Council and a community contribution of $32,000), the facilities were upgraded in 2018 to include female netball umpire and player change rooms.

The move was welcomed by netball participants, however with the current rate of growth in female participation, the facilities may again need upgrading to accommodate the large number of women now playing sport for the club, particularly football. In fact, the Murray Felines Football Club, which uses the facilities at Barkly Park, has the largest number of registrations for AFLW in North East Victoria.

 A representative from the Murray Felines says that there is a high drop-out rate among women in their teens and 20’s, so providing facilities that make them feel safe and comfortable is a huge priority and focusing on this is a great first step in reducing the drop-out rate.

Graham Steed, president of the committee of management for Barkly Park is proud of the club’s actions and hopes to take further steps to address gender equality at the Rutherglen based club.

Other clubs taking action to encourage female participation in sport, are The Kiewa Cricket Club and Kiewa Tennis club which have worked with Indigo Shire Council to receive funding to construct a Multipurpose Pavilion in Kiewa.

This project has a total construction budget of $810,000 and intends to be completed in 2022.

The new pavilion has been designed with the needs of women and girls at the forefront. The previous facilities did not provide adequate amenities for females in tennis or cricket and the general environment was not female or family friendly, which discouraged female participation.

The new designs have been created in consultation with female leaders associated with both sports and female architects who understand the specific design requirements needed to achieve a gender inclusive facility.

Indigo Shire Council has also worked in partnership with the Rutherglen Lake Rowing Club to successfully secure funding to upgrade the Lake Moodemere rowing facilities.  

The lack of change room facilities actively discouraged young girls and women’s participation in this inclusive sport. 

The club intends to expand programing following the completion of the new facility and commence a targeted campaign for women and girls, which will highlight the purpose-built change room and the training/coaching opportunities to be offered to new female teams.

Designs for the facility have included detailed consultation with women to ensure the change facilities meet the needs of female participants. 

Completion of this project is scheduled for the end of this month and is another great example of Indigo Council supporting women’s participation in sport across the Shire. 



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