Today I announced the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry report, About time! Women in sport and recreation in Australia.
As a woman who is passionate about Australian sport, I think it is incredibly important that we encourage female participation across all sports at both grass roots and professional levels.
In recent years, female participation in Australian sport has increased slightly but there is still a lot more that can be done to get women and girls participating in sports and physical activity.
According to the report, factors that impact the low participation of women and girls in sport, recreation and physical activity include fewer opportunities for participation, a lack of role models, social stereotyping and concerns with body image.
In addition to this, women often face issues with accessing sporting activities due to competing career and family commitments, limited childcare options, cultural concerns and a lack of time or money to be able to participate.
Sport, recreation and physical activity are an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and it is vital that we break down these barriers no matter what gender or age.
We need to enable better access to facilities and programs, as well as providing greater opportunities across all sports for all Australian women.
This is why the Government is seeking to reinvigorate female participation in Australian sport by committing to a number of initiatives in response to the About time report.
The first initiative is establish a new unit within the Australian Sports Commission. The unit will progress issues relating to women’s participation and leadership in sport, and will provide commercial and business support.
The Government will also work together with sports media to grow the commercial profile of women’s sport and improve the impact of Government’s Women in Sport Media Grant. There have been some great strides taken on this recently but more can be done.
Finally, a new Prime Minister’s Award for Sporting Excellence will be created – in partnership with Australian Women’s Health magazine – to recognise Australian sportswomen who make major contributions to the Australian community.
These are important steps towards recognising the contributions of women in Australian sport, and I believe the initiatives will go a long way to encouraging further female participation in sport and recreation activities across Australia.
Our aim is to make sport, recreation and physical activity for women the norm and not just an option.
The Government’s full response to the report can be viewed online at http://www.regional.gov.au/sport/resources/reports/index.aspx.