In many regional centres, sport is largely a male dominated pursuit with numerous opportunities for men and far fewer opportunities for women. Not so in Gippsland and for GippSport. As the peak body for community sport and recreation for the Gippsland region, they are well-known for finding a better balance to Change Gippsland’s Game.
Executive Officer, Dan Poynton, understands that to positively impact the gender imbalance on the pitch they would need to start with their own organisation. He is incredibly proud of the work they have done to recruit and develop the women on the GippSport team. It hasn’t been easy; they have had to chase down funding and invest equitably in women to address the imbalance that is historical in the community sport sector. As a result, one of their team has completed the Foundation Company Directors program, others have finished the various Government funded Emerging Leader’s program’s and three traineeships have been established.
“It is about equity, not equality,” says Dan.
In a proactive effort to ensure his team was on board with the investment in women, Dan started with training his male staff as allies. Today, GippSports has grown to three times its former size with women’s representation changing from 20% of the team to 60%. This is replicated on GippSport’s Board where 5 of 8 of the Directors are women from a range of backgrounds and professions.
GippSport works across a network of volunteer sportspeople that run the community clubs in the region. Here they provide support and encouragement to women in all roles from president to canteen manager. In one example, Hannah Eisen became the President of the Phillip Island Board Riders Club. She is the second female president in the club’s 59 years. The day after accepting her nomination, she had a moment of panic. With the support of Gene from the GippSport team, she has grown into the role and today is known as a role model across Victoria. Recently she has been quoted as saying, “Women should feel that they can have a say and make a valuable contribution.”
In another program, GippSport worked to expand the Orange Round campaign through the Victorian Government’s Preventing Violence through Sport grants program. This was carried out in partnership with key stakeholders Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault and Gippsland Women’s Health. Their approach was to present the facts; however, this wasn’t achieving the totality of the desired outcome. GippSport collaborated and offered additional advice centred around the traditional gender stereotypes in community sport. They actively sought out and profiled sporting leaders who were in non-traditional roles. For example, Peter Moody, male coach of the Moe A-Grade netball team or Anouk Meereboer, the first female Head Coach of a senior men’s Latrobe Valley Soccer League.
GippSport has emerged as an organisation at the forefront of community and sport development in Victoria. Even though they were not required to, they conducted a Gender Audit and wrote the Gender Equality Action plan for their peak body to lead the Regional Sport Workforce. “We are proud to be the first regional community sport organisation to do so,” says Dan. This work is now being used to inform and support 10 other community sporting organisations to work and achieve gender equality targets in their organisations.