Creating fair access to sporting infrastructure for all genders

The Victoria Park Sport and Community Facility, which was opened in 2023.

The Victoria Park Sport and Community Facility, which was opened in 2023.

A policy to ensure more equitable access to sporting and recreation facilities and programs for all genders has been formally adopted by the City of Ballarat.

At its June ordinary meeting, Ballarat City Council endorsed the Fair Access Policy, which seeks to address known barriers experienced by women and girls in accessing and using community sports infrastructure.

This policy establishes the expectation that gender and equality is prioritised in relation to sporting infrastructure, reflecting the City of Ballarat’s commitment to equal opportunity.

This would include, but is not limited to, the provision of female-friendly sporting change rooms, adding gender-based reporting into booking systems to collect data, undertaking Gender Impact Assessment’s on City of Ballarat strategies, and supporting local clubs to embed the principles.

A Fair Access Policy action plan will also be developed as part of a refresh of the Active Ballarat Strategy, due to take place in the 2024/25 financial year.

In the last four years the City of Ballarat has completed 12 projects with a focus on female-friendly access, with new builds or refurbishments at seven football/netball facilities and five soccer facilities.

Future sporting projects that have a female-friendly focus include the Doug Dean Reserve Changerooms Upgrade, City Oval Change Rooms Refurbishment and the Marty Busch Reserve No.2 Oval Changerooms.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said formalising the Fair Access Policy cemented the Council’s existing approach to gender equality at its sporting facilities.

“For a number of years now we have focused on keeping gender equality front of mind when it comes to our project planning and service delivery and I’m proud of the progress we have already made in this space,” he said.

“The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all genders and intersections can fully participate in all aspects of community sport, whether it is as a player, coach, administrator, official, volunteer, or spectator.

“While having the right facilities in terms of recreation infrastructure is important, the policy also focuses on how we can embed the culture of good practice in the community to help break down barriers to participation in sport.”

The Fair Access Policy was shaped by community engagement, with two stages of consultation taking place.

Initial engagement regarding the policy occurred in late 2023 and included conversations and forums with key stakeholders, including local sports clubs and state sporting associations, Women’s Health Grampians, Sports Central and Office for Women in Sport and Recreation.

The second stage of consultation was held via the City of Ballarat’s MySay platform from 29 Feburary-1 April, when the Draft Fair Access Policy was created.

The policy can be read in full on the City of Ballarat website