Poor state of women’s sports facilities

Published on Thu 10 February 2022 10:18am

The reality is that sports and community facilities for women and girls are generally abysmal, if they’re not absent altogether. And that’s not right. And it’s not fair. And to the extent that it means women have to change in the car, or outdoors, it is ludicrous, and it is unsafe.

Mr Wilson (10:18am) – Deputy Speaker, there are deep cultural and institutional shortcomings in Australia that continue to put women at risk and continue to mean women face inequality and experience harm. This week we considered the Jenkins Report, heard from Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins. It seems to me that the message we need to get as decision makers, and particularly as men, is that it’s past time for action and for change.

Inequality, mistreatment, disrespect. These are all matters that require cultural change, change to our systems and our laws. There are structural forms of inequality, too.

Today, I want to speak about what might be regarded as a relatively minor form of that built form inequality, namely, the fact that throughout our neighbourhoods you will find community sports facilities that reflect a lack of fairness and respect for women and girls. That has been the case for a long time.

The last few years, the AFLW phenomenon has shown us what we’ve been missing in not being able to support and cheer for women athletes playing our distinctive national sport. But it’s also shown that football clubs around Australia simply don’t provide adequate facilities for women and girls and even in sports with a long history of female participation it’s often the case that the toilets and change rooms has been designed and provided for men and boys.

The reality is that sports and community facilities for women and girls are generally abysmal, if they’re not absent altogether. And that’s not right. And it’s not fair. And to the extent that it means women have to change in the car, or outdoors, it is ludicrous, and it is unsafe.

Deputy Speaker next year, Australia and New Zealand will host the Women’s World Cup, the premier international football tournament, the tournament for the world game a different but no less beautiful kind of football. And, again, at a time when Australia should be showcasing not just the Matilda’s and my constituent Sam Kerr in particular, but all the incredible young footballers coming through who’ll be inspired by the event, we know that facilities to compliment that interest aren’t good enough.

Unfortunately, the Morrison government’s approach in this area took the form of the thoroughly rotten sports rorts program that included at least one case where a project received money on the basis of upgrading female facilities even though the club in question had no women’s teams.

Deputy Speaker I know there are facilities in my community that need to be upgraded, and that includes both high level facilities for teams like the Dockers AFLW side at their training HQ, the ARC in Cockburn and where they play at Fremantle Oval in addition to the facilities at numerous local sports clubs. The Spearwood Dalmatinac club has put its hand up to be a training ground for the Women’s World Cup but the Morrison government is yet to make clear now we’ll support facility upgrades that will be necessary as part of legacy commitments we’ve made as the host nation.

Deputy Speaker, we cannot continue have a government that perverts community sports for its own political self-interest while neglecting to address the deeply sub-standard condition of facilities for Australian women and girls.

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