• Equality and Respect: A Whole of Sport Approach

    17m 45s

    Cassie has over twenty years’ experience working across government, industry, not-for-profit, education and sports sectors. Recognised as a prevention of violence and gender equality expert in the sports environment, Cassie has developed tailored programs for Rugby Australia, NRL, AFL, FFA and Netball Australia to build their capability for positive cultural change.

Graphical summary and transcript




Okay. It says equality, respecting football. I'm actually going to talk about equality and respect in sport as a whole. Drawing on over my 10 years experience that I've had in this sector around sport and workplace gender equality. Previously, I have worked for Our Watch, which is a national organization to prevent violence against women. And my role there was as the national sports engagement manager. So working with a lot of the organizations that Katrina just mentioned. Also working in a regional area in Victoria around workplace gender equality and respect, developing programs, working with organizations from factories through to corporate and governments. And now I'm the Diversity Inclusion Manager at Football Federation Australia and being there yet. So drawing on all of that. I'm going to share with you some of my knowledge and experience in that space.

So when we talk about equality and respect in sport, particularly gender equality, respectful relationships has over time over the last 15 to 20 years being programs that maybe focus on male coaches in our sports. All they focus on our players, our elite players, or they're definitely talking to our grassroots. But actually, what evidence is telling us is we actually need to have a whole of sport approach. Those targeted programs alone will not make the impact that we need to make towards gender equality. So whilst I was at Our Watch, I actually was involved with RMIT to do some research in this because sport is an area that has been doing this work for so long and there really has been minimal evaluation and evidence about what is effective. And what we found in this research with RMIT is this 10 elements of promising practice? This practice is being drawn. These principles have been drawn from international and national research.

If you jump online, you can actually access this document. And it also lists the number of programs that have been running addressing gender equality and respectful relationships. So it's a useful tool just purely if you want to do work in this space. You don't have to start from square from start. But the first one was the most important one. We need a whole of sport approach. We need all levels of the sport to commit to this. We can't just be going off running something just for players one off one hour program and thinking that is going to make the impact. It actually isn't. And in some ways can create more risk and harm than what it is intended to do.

The other principle, which is very high on the list, is around the four drivers of violence against women. And I can't. I'd love to spend I could spend hours talking about those four drivers, but today's not the day. But to prevent violence against women, the four drivers around excusing and condoning violence against women, adhering to rigid gender stereotypes, limiting women's independence in public and private life, and groups of men who act and disrespect women. I unpack those in the training that I deliver and I make them relevant because I sound very academic to the sporting landscape. And what does that mean? But we need to in our work, think about those gendered drivers and how we can address those. We need to have the involvement of women and girls. I like to use examples. So an example of this is I was right and I don't use the sporting codes name, so you just bear with me.

But there is a sporting code who was discussing the female uniform at a elite level and there was no women in the room. And I was talking about everything to do with what those women would be wearing. And when I presented this to an organisation, someone came at me from the grassroots and said, you know what, we do that too. Unconsciously, we do not do that on purpose. We never even thought twice about it. Simple things like that through the facilities asking questions how women and girls feel. We need to have them involved from the very beginning and unconsciously this does not happen. When we start this work. What happens is we can go in and run a training session and it can be two hours and we think we've done our piece. But actually there could be things, responses of incidences that come up. And if that organisation, if that sport is not equipped to respond to that straightaway, you're actually undoing or you could work.

So before this work commences, particularly in an organisation, we would say what you need to do is have your managers trained up to be able to respond to incidences of disrespect, sexism, sexual harassment. And if you don't do that, you're actually putting greater risk and harm for yourself, your management the organisation and obviously that individual. So you need to be able to respond. And we know sports who aren't quick to respond and how that plays out for them, even in their brand management and be values driven. A lot of organisations, if it doesn't align to their values, if they're there to do this because it is what they seem to be a good thing to do rather than what is embedded in their values. It is not going to change culture. It is not going to be sustained. And therefore it needs to be long term planning and resourcing. Gender equality. They're saying is around. It's gonna take us about two hundred years. So for us to see women as CEO is potentially 80 years. And that is if the trajectory continues to go up. If you look at the ASX 200 results, the CEOs women has actually dropped. So in actual fact, the trajectory in that space is not happening. If we if we think in three years, our funding's three years, we're going to. We've done our bit. We're actually not going to increase and actually reach that 200. The gap is even going to be wider. And we have to be evidence led.

There is a document here. There's many documents that are around where people have done respectful relationships, done gender equality, and and it is not starting from scratch. There is a lot of resources around an evaluation and I sport like to evaluate. But evaluation from the start. We need to measure prior to beginning this work, not after you've run your to our training.

We need to measure behavior and attitude shift. And consider context, diversity and difference. Not every person will experience gender equality or inequality the same. And people's stories will be different. And we need to be mindful of that. And let's share resources and experience. We've got to be able to not start from scratch all the time.

There is a plethora of knowledge and experience and Victoria and has got quite a lot with VicHealth, but there are also a lot of sports who are happy to share their knowledge.

I'm just going to I'm going to talk about all of these. But what I wanted to do is say this fundamentals. I've learnt personally in the space of ten years and one is time. I have done things wrong and I have tried to rush this work and it's not okay to do it that way. In actual fact, that is exactly what we can't do.

What from my experience when I've worked in this in this area, it's taken me at least 12 months to get leadership on board, to get people to understand the fundamentals, how gender equity even makes sense and would be relevant to sport. And then you're adding preventing violence against women. That seems like a huge stretch. It takes time and you need people to come with you. You need to tailor your responses. It is a hard sell. Sometimes we're going with those four drivers and people go, oh, my God, this isn't relevant to us. You actually have to pair it back to where people are at and you need to find those champions and role models.

I must say, though, when I worked with AFL and NRL, they had been in this space for quite a while, so they were quite agile and could move quite quickly while others needed more time to get their head around it. We need working groups. We need people from all departments to understand this. We need the media department to understand it right through. It can't just sit in HR or community arm. It needs to seat across the organisation. They need to understand that. So it needs to be where there is training for the whole organisation. And then what we do is have a working group and they have concentrated training. So you might do two hour staff training and then you do four hour training field working group.

And then I would work with them to say, when I've done this work, you work with them for could be six months as a technical expert to support them going through the process of reviewing gender equality from and I'll show you a table. But showing them from go to whoa, how we can embed gender equality in sport and in our organisation.

And storytelling is the best. I tell stories about my children, how my daughter was told in cricket that in the cricket team she overheard a mother on the sidelines say whatever you do, don't let that girl get you out. I tell the stories where I went and looked at a I was looking for a display home and we were looking through it. And the lady said to me, Oh, this is fantastic for you. The kitchen's just there. You can watch the kids over there and dad can watch the footy there.

And my daughter is going and I'm like, we're not having that conversation now. Just there is a time, but it's not now. And so stories are powerful. And people in your organisations, in your sports will have their own experiences of gender inequality. And they're really powerful. And, you know, there's some that I've heard that actually are horrendous where referees are threatened with rape. And when sometimes we live in our bubble in organisations, we don't see what's going on at the grassroots level. We have to be vulnerable. And hear those stories because that changes hearts and minds and they're really powerful. We have to have time for stories.

And we have to get our own house in order. It's all good to go out and run programmes for these communities for our for our clubs to do this stuff. If we haven't got our own house in order, we are undoing all the good work we have to start with ourselves. And statistics are powerful. You know, statistics are the thing that some people need to hear how much this is affecting our community and how we can play a role. If we can minimize sexism, discrimination, harassment early, we can actually minimise those fifty seven women who have died at the hands of their partner this year. There is a lot we can do as a sport, as a platform to challenge those attitudes, stereotypes. And we can actually move people much quicker if we have strong leaders and strong cultural educational programs.

So inclusion for all is what we're after and we want to look at how things sometimes get comfortable with being uncomfortable for a little bit. If we're gonna say change in, it's gonna if we want accelerate and not wait 200 years for our kids to say change, we have to be a bit uncomfortable with some of these stuff. And partnerships with experts, you don't have to be the expert in sport. There are people out there. You can you can call on. You can draw on. And the other one is that I've done quite a lot since with Football Federation Australia is I've worked with rugby, the two rugby's and a few other sports. And we've done things together. We did International Women's Day together and we actually had Katrina come up and speak to our organisations together. We have done recently we did some pride work together. So you don't always need to do this on your own as well. Sport as a whole can own this and share the knowledge and the resources. And in that campaign, I'm going to show you the actual clip that we developed.

We worked obviously with the four big codes there and that took a lot of time. That is the third iteration, this campaign that you watch. We had to work through what was okay to put publicly out there to brand manage to ensure we looked after the welfare of those four ambassadors of the game, that we trained those ambassadors up. So if they got any backlash, so that we trained up the social media teams so they could deal with any backlash they received because they don't always moderate their feed, which when I was working at Our Watch, that freaked us out. But that's reality of sport. We can't moderate everything. When do we moderate? How do we up-skill people in the media teams to be able to be equipped to deal with that. And so we have to develop packages so that support them on that.

So these processes take time and the power that it gives sport gives an example of that as this campaign was just a social media campaign around the 16 days of activism. And prior to that, Our Watch had done some and had pretty good reach. But when we did this one, it was a 300 percent increase reach. It reached three million people and that was from all over because we had far reaching sports involved. So sport, don't underestimate the power of sport has collectively in social issues. And I must say, I've found that sport in this area has been very keen to share their knowledge. And I am one that I am more than happy to talk to you about what that looks like.

The other thing, though, in this work is we need to do trigger warnings. If we think about the data, someone in this room will be affected by the content. Someone will someone will know someone. So I always say it is really important to consider doing a trigger warning and refer to the 1 800 respect line and your organisation and your sports. It is really important to have places safe places for people to refer to. So on that, I am going to share the campaign, but also happy for people to speak to me afterwards if anything in there is triggering and it goes for about 90 seconds, I think. Should I push it again?

We've all seen it. That stranger trying to get a phone number when she just wants to be left alone.

Or the guy making a sexist joke or pointing her out to the boys.

It could be a disrespectful comment towards a female boss or coworker. Or suggesting there are certain jobs for men and certain places for women. Ending violence against women begins with stamping out harassment and intimidation.

It's up to us to act when we see sexism or inappropriate behavior.

We need to challenge a culture that disempowers and disrespects women. And make it clear we don't condone demeaning behaviors or attitudes towards women.

Preventing violence against women starts with challenging the kinds of attitudes and beliefs that demean and disrespect women. Whenever and wherever we see them.

Be more than a spectator.

So that is an example of a guess, though, over the three years. When that campaign and that work, there was a number of things that happened before we got to that point. That was year two I think. We had to do a lot of this stuff. This is the whole of sport approach I talk about. We needed to find ambassadors. We need to educate them. We needed individuals in organizations to feel comfortable with his content. They need to be actively supported. We needed to then work in their internal culture. We looked at the policies, procedures, how do we provide training, how do we invest with the media? How do we stop and re frame how we put our media out? What kind of messaging does that look like? Some of these organizations have and have invested in the individuals and then they've invested in training up the internal culture of individuals and ambassadors. Then we look at the leadership and accountability. How do we embed this in staff KPIs? What do our statistics look like? What is the training we're giving our management ongoing? Not once off. This is ongoing for 200 years. It's not going to happen in three years. It's ongoing.

Then we go and talk to the coaches, players, referees. So an example of all of this is Rugby Australia. They developed they've trained up their individuals. They have reviewed the policies, procedures, developed a gender equality plan. They've also, their CEO was heavily involved from the very beginning. Making sure every meeting that there was gender equality was on the on the agenda. They reviewed their awards. They changed to a male female emcee. They moved the awards, prize and placements of their awards. And I moved them up. So the male and the female were awarded at the same time. They did a session with their coaches. They also did a session with referees training. They also did club level. And Rugby League has done something very similar.

They developed training and whatever training they deliver to their community, they deliver to their staff. And the staff are part of that. So the message has been consistently throughout. And then there's the outward facing stuff. So, you know, looking at the images online and working with the club. So at the moment, I've been doing work with Football Federation Australia and all that middle bit that individual culture leadership part. We're starting to move out now. We're about to develop an inclusive club for women and girls toolkit for clubs so that they can if they want to, and basing on VicHealth's work. But also we're developing some survey for their members that they can survey the club members. They can do some review from a board governance perspective, develop an action plan and then implement. But with advice and support from technical expertise along the way. So it's got to be a whole sport approach if we are going to have an impact. And if we don't if we think the one offs are going to work, it evidence shows you one hour, two hour sessions raise awareness that don't change attitudes and behaviors. We need to do much more than that. Thank you.