30th August 2023 17:58
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan):
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Minister Dimopoulos. In recent weeks we have witnessed the incredible scenes of Matildas fever sweeping Australia. 11.15 million Australians tuned in to watch the semifinal match against England, making it the most watched television program since records have been kept. This tidal wave of love for our national women’s soccer team has been labelled as a game changer for women’s sport in this country.

Unfortunately, Australian female athletes still face many more barriers to participation and progression than their male counterparts. This is an ongoing struggle for adequate resources, funding, support and equal pay, as the minister is well aware. Even at the very highest levels of their sports many athletes cannot earn enough money to make a career of it and are forced to take on additional work or leave professional sport altogether. Women’s sport is crying out for support, and the old rhetoric that women’s sport simply is not as popular has clearly been proven wrong. But the thing is, it did not ever need to be. There is no justification for this gross and systematic divide in resources, facilities and pay. During the women’s FIFA World Cup, commitments were made by FIFA to future pay parity with the men’s game, which I welcome, but it is still a hard pill to swallow that the winning team of the women’s FIFA World Cup took home $6.6 million while last year’s men’s winning team took home an eye-watering $64.6 million in prize money.

It is terrific that following the event the federal government announced $200 million to fund the improvement of sporting infrastructure, including facilities and equipment for women and girls. I acknowledge the government’s guarantee of more free-to-air broadcast for women’s sports. Many, including me, were frustratingly unable to watch many of the World Cup games because of its limited presence on free-to-air television. But the reality is this is a drop in the ocean compared to professional men’s sport. Somewhere in Australia right now our future Matildas are out there, turning up to practice three times a week and watching every game. Right now they need our help. We can give them the support and resources they need so that nothing stands in their way. Former Socceroo Craig Foster has called on state governments to get involved in increasing grassroots funding to foster more opportunities for women and girls in sport. So the action I seek is that the minister consider how we can get women and girls to engage and participate in sport throughout their lives and for the minister to direct greater investment into grassroots women’s sport programs around Victoria.

Written Answer
Received: 28 November 2023
Hon. Steve Dimopoulos
(Minister for Environment, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Minister for Outdoor Recreation)

I will begin by thanking the member for their question as it provides me with the opportunity to once again acknowledge the tremendous success of the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup and our own Matildas who helped create one of the most significant sporting events ever held in Australia. The tournament was a watershed moment for not just women and girls in sport, but for Australia. Its success highlights just what is possible if we support and invest in women and girls in sport from grassroots to elite participation.

The Victorian Government’s flagship investment unveiled ahead of the World Cup was the new Home of The Matildas at La Trobe University Sports Park in Bundoora. The $57.29 million centre of excellence will transform women’s football in Victoria, helping to grow our future female football superstars.

Despite significant growth in women and girls’ participation in community sport, we still have more to do to bridge the gender gap. I would like to acknowledge the Minister for Community Sport, the Hon Ros Spence for her work in driving gender equality across her Community Sport portfolio including funding for almost 1,700 projects that benefit women and girls, thanks to more than $760 million committed to women and girls community sports infrastructure.

And her work does not stop with facilities. In 2017, the Victorian Government established the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation – the first office of its kind in Australia – in response to the 2015 Inquiry into Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation. Since this time, more than $18 million has been committed to the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation and its delivery of the Change Our Game initiative to increase leadership and participation by women and girls in sport and recreation.

Initiatives includes the Fair Access Policy Roadmap, launched in August 2022. From 1 July 2024, local councils will be required to have a gender equitable access and use policy in place to remain eligible for Victorian Government funding. Change Our Game is also driving positive structural and cultural change across the community sport sector through the Balance the Board policy. Since it was introduced in 2017, the number of sport and active recreation bodies with gender balanced boards increased from 45% to 96%.

I look forward to seeing the work of this Government resulting in even more women and girls being active in their local parks or sporting fields, on our television screens and in our board rooms.


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