• Violence Against Women - Community Sports Role in Prevention

    30m 29s

    Think Tank 7 with CEO of Our Watch, Patty Kinnersly, looks at community sports role in preventing violence against women. There is evidence that the COVID-19 lockdown has seen a disturbing increase in violence against women. A Monash University study Responding to the Shadow Pandemic reveals the concerns that the pandemic has led to an increase in the frequency and severity of violence against women alongside an increase in the complexity of women’s needs, including the emergence of new forms of intimate partner violence relating to social isolation.What is community sports response to this? As community sport starts to resume what role can a local club or association play in preventing violence against women? 

Below are links to resources referred to in this Think Tank: 

A team effort - preventing violence against women through sport

How sport can help change the story

Change the story video

Workplace Equality and Respect resource

These are extraordinary times, the presence of COVID-19 means that each and every one of us, each and every one of us is facing our toughest ever opposition, although we stand apart if we work together as a team, as a team, and play by the rules, and play by the rules, we'll soon get back to playing and watching the sport that we love.

We need your support now more than ever, more than ever. Wash your hands and listen to the advice. If we play by the rules, we'll all get through this together.

Hello and welcome to Think Tank 7 in our Play by the Rules series, my name is Peter Downs, I'm manager of Play by the Rules. Today, we're going to be looking at the topic of violence against women and looking at this specifically community sports role in addressing that and and prevention. Can I start though, by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we're all sitting today and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. Today we welcome Patty Kinnersly from Our Watch. Good morning, Patty. Morning, Peter. Thank you very much.Thank you, I will briefly introduce you because to say you have a keen interest in sport is a massive understatement there.

So if you didn't know Patty play in the Victorian Women's Football League for 14 years, including five premierships, she represented Victoria on 10 occasions, twice as captain and twice named in the all Australian side, once as captain. Patty was also named in the Silver Jubilee teams for the Darabin Falcons and the VWFL as vice captain of the latter.

Wow. I really wanted to read that out. Patty. So that's you and you clearly have a very great interest in sport. So it's a really good time to to talk to you. To kick start then Patty. I know there's been some reports come out recently around, particularly from Monash, I think, and from the UK around an increase reports on increase in domestic violence and violence against women during the lockdown in particular. Now, society and sport is no exception, has a responsibility to react to that in some way. So my opening question to you really is what is community sport's role in addressing that.

Thank you, Peter. And I'll really take the opportunity to thank you for the opportunity to be here today and apologise to the rest of you for reading at my footy credibility. I didn't know that that was going to happen. So I'll also start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and for me it's the Dja Dja Wurrung people in central Victoria and pay my respects to those past and present to here today.

Violence against women is most definitely everybody's business and community sport has a huge role to play in that. And you're right about the recent spike, Peter, and I'll talk a bit more about that in a moment. But so that we have a good chance to chat I'm going to start with a few assumptions that we are going to start from the same place. So I will assume that, you know, the importance of women in your game and to your club and that you know, that we, our elite women's teams are actually on fire at the moment. We're going to host the next basketball World Cup and fingers crossed, the football World Cup. But I know that you'll be really aware that women who were on fire didn't acquire their talents in the same envelope as their driver's licence. They built their skill both in community sport and community sport is also where a lot of women working now in elite sport or in senior roles in government or corporate organisations build their admin or finance or governance skills in your community sports.

We also know that talent and intelligence are evenly distributed amongst our community. Opportunities to to bring those talents out is not necessarily equally distributed. I'll note here that I'm talking about men and women, but I know that you'll all be aware there'll be people in both in your community sport that might be non binary or express themselves in different ways. We won't go deep into that today, but I'm just acknowledging that I'm using men and women but we need to seek more broadly than that. We all know that violence against men occurs. It's mostly perpetrated by other men or they're not exclusively and that we completely all agree that that violence is bad. We do also understand, though, that the biggest issue or the biggest risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault or domestic or family violence is actually being a woman. So and overwhelmingly that that violence is perpetrated by men. Which brings us to this conversation.

Another assumption and I'm starting point is that you understand that sport and your sport has a role to play in community issues. And I'm also assuming, because you were here today, that you do have a personal commitment to preventing violence against women and you actually like to know how to do that in your work. And finally, a smart and engaged people that you are, you'll know what it takes to lead or contribute to driving cultural change in an area of need in your sporting community. You know, you need to understand what's happening. You need to educate yourself. You need to develop a plan and you need to implement it. I hope that today's conversation supports you in that process. And we'll make a disclaimer that even though I do love sport and I have been involved in it and I still am today and I'm on the board of it AFL club, and of course, I'm in this role, I'm actually not an expert in community sport, and I'm not deep it like you all are. So please forgive me and adapt, please. If I say something, it's a little off track. And I can't see peoples eyes rolling. So that's the good start.

So why is violence against women a community sport issue? Because it's everybody's issue. It will actually take the whole community for us to change the underlying circumstances around violence against women. I'm not going to spend much time in the stats today, but I willl just bring a few to mind, which is I'm sure you've heard that every week in Australia, one woman is murdered at the hands of a partner, a former partner. What you might not realise is that means that already twenty five women this year have been killed violently. 16 of those in the last 11 weeks. So, correctly speaking, we're above average during the lockdown period. We also know that this is just the tip of the iceberg for every woman who appears in these aweful stats there are thousands living with violence and abuse. And it happens everywhere across the country, in every household, every postcode, every region of Australia. We also know that this violence is not always physical. It can be psychological, economic, emotional, sexual abuse and a whole range of controlling behaviours. So it's worth thinking today about your community sport. It might be the one place that a woman, including young women, feel safe, like she could be herself. It might be the one place where she feels where she sees healthy relationships between men and women being modelled. It might be where she's encouraged to try things, take on different roles and just to be valued for who she is. It might also be the place where she chooses to reach out for help. So there's a lot to think about. For for you and your role. I'm actually going to throw it back to Peter now. He's going to show us a better three minute clip that brings together a whole range of information for you then, and we'll talk more about and it save me speaking for 40 minutes. Thanks, Peter.

We know that violence against women must end and ending violence against women starts with gender equality. When women are not equal to men, they are seen as less worthy of respect. Disrespectful attitudes and behaviours are the foundation of any and every act of violence against women. So what sport got to do with it? Sport is more than a game.

It shapes who we are. Whether you're a player or a coach, a referee, an administrator or a fan. Sport influences who we are and how we live. Team sports, like basketball, teach the value of teamwork and communication.

Swimming, and the early morning training it requires teaches the importance of self-discipline and the rewards of hard work. And with 87 per cent of Australian adults participating in some form of sport or physical activity, it's fair to say that sport can be as important as family, education or faith in shaping our values and behaviours in life.

So when inequality and disrespect are part of sport, it has a ripple effect on the rest of the community. When sport promotes and champions stereotypical versions of masculinity and femininity. These stereotypes seep into attitudes and behaviours in families, homes and schools.

They become the norm. When degrading language and harmful forms of masculinity are justified as locker room talk. It normalises disrespect of women off the field. When aggression, intimidation, threats and violence are accepted as a way for men to resolve disputes on the field. We normalise emotional and physical violence in pubs, streets and homes. But sexist attitudes and disrespectful behaviours are only part of the problem. Despite almost equal participation rates for men and women in organised sport at community level, women remain underrepresented in sport and underpaid at a professional level. As for decision making, just one in three board members in sport are women, and only nine per cent of television news reporting covers women in sport, compared to more than 80 per cent coverage for men. Without equal representation and respect for women in sport. Equal behaviours and attitudes off the field won't be achieved. The good news is we can change the story when we come together to challenge stereotypes, provide greater opportunities and choices for women, challenge harmful forms of masculinity and sexist language, and promote equal representation of women. We make sporting environments more inclusive, welcoming and respectful for everyone.

And when women and men have equal power, value and opportunities in sport and in society, violence against women is less likely. It'll be a team effort. But sport can help change the story. Because ending violence against women starts with gender equality.

I'll jump in very quickly that I just let people know that this video and other resources mentioned by Patty will be on Play by the Rules with the transcript and the recording of this as well. So we we'll try to include as many links to those resources as we can. OK, Patty will resume back to you.

Thanks very much, Peter. So what's embedded in that clip is actually a huge evidence base about what drives women and what actions you can take. In 2015, Our Watch released a document called Change The Story, which is a shared national framework for the prevention of Violence Against Women. It brings together international research and nationwide experience on what's driving violence against women and children and importantly, what works to prevent it. What Change the Story makes clear is that gender inequality is the core of the problem. And overwhelmingly, where particular expressions of gender inequality, working across all the places of our life, or settings of our life, work, sport, education and so forth, where they are coming together as a predicts high rates of violence against women. We call these gender drivers and their examples of those are the condoning of violence against women. So what did she expect when she was wearing that? He was stressed. Those sorts of things. So dismissing it. Men's control of decision making about and limits to women's independence. So who's making most of decisions most of the time on behalf of the whole community? It's still men at this point, rigid stereotypes about masculinity and femininity. And just to be clear. Masculinity and femininity of themselves are not good or bad. They just are. It's when we rigidly adhere to one version of that and we don't accept other versions that it's problematic and disrespect towards women in male peer relations. So it's these drivers, or expressions of gender inequality playing out in all of the places we spend our time that will create an environment where violence is more likely to occur.

When we think about one of the places we spend a lot of our time is engaged in our sport. For most people, that's community sport. Also embedded in that clip. Actions that will prevent violence against women. So in terms of community sport, in a nutshell, if you're promoting and normalising and celebrating gender equality, you'll be contributing. So you that you challenge the condoning of violence against women. You don't let the sexist joke go past without saying anything. You do promote women's independence and decision making. You do foster personal identities that aren't so rigid about girls should be this, and boys should be that. And you strengthen healthy relationships between men and women. So this, as Peter said, there's a lot of resources available to help you through this work, Play by the Rules, have a lot of very good resources and we have some as well. But I'm just going to highlight a series of questions that actually designed to bring forward to you, the types of things where those actions play out in your in your community sport.

So how many women are on your board or decision making functions? What language do you use without thinking about the impact? So things like 'man up' or he 'kicks like a girl'. What language do you use about women and women's roles in your organisation and your sport?

Who gets the best fields and the best resources? In your newsletters, Are women and girls equally profiled. Do you have the same amount of clinics? Boys and girls? Is your Constitution still from 1923 and refers only to men. And it is probably silent on other important matters, like Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders.

Are your best and fairest trophies for men and women the same size? Seriously, they use things matter. Do women clean their own club rooms and do women clean the mens clubrooms? Do you speak with funders and it could be your council about funding for women and girls, not just about for the men. Are the same things available to women. Do they come off and have soup after training in the winter, the same as the boys do. Do you engage with your community partners about supporting women, whether it's in the donations they give to your organisation or club or job opportunities for players and so forth? Are your best on ground prizes for women, based on hair, nails and alcohol for men? Do you spend comparative money on women's resources? Are your roles in your club's open to men and women, umpiring, coaching, canteen, board, game day activities and so forth. Aside from taking the field, how you identify as a man or a woman or or other is actually not relevant to these roles.

We have an expectation that there's difference. That men will do is in and the women will do this. Women will be our canteen and men will be on boards. But actually, that's old thinking and it's it's rigid gender stereotypes at play. If you're not sure about the answers to these questions, I have a very nice piece of advice that doesn't come from me. It comes from men that I've worked with in this space. So CEOs of sporting organisations and big corporates and people leading this work. They've said the best thing that they've ever done and I've heard this time and time again is actually take the time to sit and listen to the women in your club. So sit with a woman or a girl from your club, find one. Do one a week, 30 minutes, and ask her about her experience of being involved with your community sport. Don't interrupt her. Don't rebut what she's saying. Don't try to justify it. Don't fix it. Just listen. It is completely free. It's highly informative and sometimes a little uncomfortable.

I cannot see the world through the eyes of a man, nor can men say the eyes of the world or their organisation through the eyes of a woman. So what this does is give you a whole view that is not open to you unless you ask the question. So this list of ideas actually connects back to the gender drivers and the actions you need to take. And there's there's a lot of resources that actually help you with that in a more structured way. But in essence, if you take deliberate action to promote and normalise women and girls in your club, you'll be improving the culture of your club. You'll genuinely reflect the community which in which you exist and you will contribute to preventing violence against women.

I'll just finish before we take questions with a comment about the capability and capacity of community sports to undertake this work. We often hear that community sports don't have the ability or the capability. You don't have paid roles and you don't have money. But I know that you actually do have the ability to do this. You have a product that brings your community together. You have people. You have tens, if not hundreds of volunteers as well as your extended community. And you have a passion for your club and for the community in which you live and work, and play. You have such power in your hands. We are all very comfortable talking about what we got from sport. I've had the question asked me a lot. It's a lot of times. Patty, tell us about your leadership journey, how you ended up here, and I'll talk about what sport taught me discipline and leadership and encourage it in supporting the weakest link and investing in your people. It's entirely possible. We extend that experience to, I've also learnt about equal opportunity for people in our club. I learnt about respect and the value of respect. I learnt about understanding healthy relationships between women and men. So I'd really encourage you to keep moving forward on this work, reaching out. There are genuinely a lot of people who want to support you in this work. Thanks, Peter. I'm happy to take some questions.

That's brilliant. Thank you. Thank you, Patty. Yes. We've got some comments coming in and questions. Please send them in. Now we've got about another 10 minutes or so. To kick start the questioning, though, Patty, I refer to a couple of questions and comments I had prior to this think tank come in. And they raised some complex issues of which you've already addressed some of them.

And they felt they were from people who had been subject to violence in a sport context. And I'll read out a quote that I've adapted here. That sums it up quite well. In making complaints, in trying to raise issues of of within a club setting. they felt they weren't listening to. They felt they weren't supported in that environment. And this is particularly so in male dominated sports that are to quote, dominated by men and based on rigid hierarchical principles of violence against women is not just about how it can be addressed within community sport, per se, but the need when violence occurs for it to be taken seriously by the administrative systems that support community sport. And I guess my question coming out of that, which is a great a great question, is how do we ensure that administrators, administrators and support systems take this serious issue seriously?

It's a great question. And what I didn't go deep into is some product we've got called equality, respect in sport. And it has a set of standards that actually demonstrates a whole of sport approach to this work. It actually won't work if you have one person over there trying to lead it or one person you over here. It actually needs to be the whole organisation. And the standards relate to commitment and it talks about commitment from your board to your CEO or the leaders in your organisation right through every aspect. What are the conditions? What does the culture actually like and what support to people have? So you're 100 percent right that you actually need support from everybody and you do need to get the leaders in your club on board. You also need to make sure that there are processes in place if somebody does feel unsafe or does make a disclosure. You actually do need to do that because it's actually had to run any cultural change. People don't feel safe. And so what we've found successful in sport before is if the people who lead your sporting club or your community are not caught on board, it's actually about getting other people who they respect to have the conversation with them. And that could be somebody from a AFL or and NRL club if they respect people at that level. But you will find people in your community who those people respect and you've got to be able to have that conversation. It's also about bringing data forward. And I talked about listening to women, but it's actually what if you have a meeting with your committee, your club broadly and supporters and players and so forth, and ask them, what are the key issues? You could even do a confidential survey. I'd be very surprised if safety and issues about gender equality don't come to the top.

You're right. It's a technical issue from a technical question. But I think it's more than a technical question from Daniel here.

And it goes to the heart of how you start a conversation or how do you start to listen to as you were talking about. What was the question the directors asked of the women during their conversations in their clubs? So I guess it's getting it. How do you start the process of listening? What how do you start that?

The question that I've had asked again and again is just could could you to sit and tell me about your experiences of being a part of this club? What is it like for you? Well, what does it do? You know? And it's important not to lay people too much, but actually, what is it like when you come to the club? Do you feel safe? Are you happy being here? What do you think we could do differently? And you'll find that people open that conversation. But I do think it's important that you are also able to have a conversation at your board or committee level and in every part of your organisation to see that that this is a valid conversation that people are interested in. Once people start talking about this issue and they know they're safe to talk about it and they won't be criticised for it, you'll find a lot of data will come forward. But you do need champions. I think that's really important.

You have a question from Allen here, which is a broader question, but I think very relevant. Thanks, Patty. Such practical advice. I'm interested in the post COVID time when there is a tendency to revert to norms. How can we ensure women's sports are actively considered as leagues are cancelling the current winter season?

It's a big question and it's a question that many people across the country are grappling with at the moment. We know that some really serious positive gains have been made in sport across the country in relation to gender equality and that other actually other really important issues around Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people or people with gender diversity or child safety or disability or those sorts of things. It's so important that we hold onto those moving forward. And one of the things that we've been able to it's very clear in Australia is that women's sport, not just women's participation, but the visibility of women's sport, has been like a flash of fresh energy through sporting organisations. Now, AFLW is the most really obvious example that has just brought new life to clubs and brought a whole new group of people who want to support and a whole new group of people that want to put money in. But the Women's World Cup, how many people showed up to that? If we get the soccer, the football World Cup, how important that's going to be. So I think we need to work really diligently not to go backwards. We need to keep putting this conversation to the top. This Australia is a community made up of women and men. Everyone loves sport, playing, watching, administering. This is not just for men. And I think we've move forward from that conversation. But it will take those of us in every level of the community to keep putting our hands up and saying we're choosing not to go backwards on this matter.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I've got a question. That was again. Again, trying to look at some of the comments that came in prior to the forum as well. But it's around COVID, COVID-19 restrictions on the increased vulnerability of certain populations during COVID, and post as well. It's not going to suddenly go away and we start when we start playing. Tnat increases the vulnerability of some some groups. So what are some of the very initial practical actions? I know you've talked about some of them, but let's explore it a bit more. Some initial practical action is that community support can take recognising that some people are going to be more vulnerable than others.

It's a great point. And obviously, whilst COVID is a health crisis, that it has had disproportionate outcomes for women in terms of the immediate spike in violence against women, but also other data like. There's been a high rate of women losing jobs, a high rate of women exposed to contagion, those sorts of things. But we also know that there are groups like people with disabilities, people with increased mental health issues and so forth. As a community sport, people in your community need to know that the doors are open for them to be safe in your organisation. Now, you might know the people that you feel are at risk and you reach out to them. But I think the key thing is to have the deliberate conversation and say how can we make sure that this is a place that people want to come to and they feel safe and that where possible we reach out. Now, that could be as simple as sending the email or the newsletter saying, please reach out, if you'd like a hand and please come and talk to us. You also can reach out on your socials or the old fashioned phone. But you are right that these crises like this has the potential to reinforce existing inequalities. And so we have to work really deliberately and actively to stop that. Community support has a huge reach.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I have to take a couple more thanks. Narelle, for sharing the No More Domestic Violence Action Plan tool. I think if you look in the comments section, there's a link there. Thanks, Narelle. I have a a point for an issue for some discussion Patty. And I'll just read it straight out. I'm a woman, a survivor of sexual exploitation in sport, which was perpetuated at the community by my male coach. Community sport is currently disempowering many girls in sport, especially teenage girls. My feeling is that sport needs to look at itself and fix violence in sport. Only then will sport have a power to become a driver for the prevention of violence against women broadly. And is asking for any thoughts around that?

Well, firstly, I'm really sorry you had that experience. And, you know, that's it's. Awful, it happens to people in the really sorry that happened to you. Sport does have a huge responsibility to play. And if we don't thread through your sporting organisation the promoting and normalising gender equality in every part. So how do we promote that there are women in coaching roles. How do we make sure that there are women on your boards? How do we make sure that there are women in key roles? So that list of questions I asked before, I can just sound like a list of questions. But if you're a girl in your sporting community and you look around and you see women in leadership roles, you say women that we respect. I know that that I can go and speak to that woman if I feel like I'm being disrespected or so forth. This sexist joke doesn't just go by the sporting codes that are there. I'd be really surprised if other people around you didn't have some inkling that there was something a bit off going on there. And they didn't for some reason, they didn't speak up. They didn't feel like they had a bystander voice. They didn't feel like the processes in place. All of these things have to be in place. If we're going to create a safe environment for women and girls and for everybody using your sport.

Thanks, Patty. I'm going to start to draw it to a close, we get close to it very, very quickly, to 10.30. But I do want to keep it short and sharp.

We've got some other comments and stuff coming in and we'll put all the resources that are mentioned and in the comments with the replay of this think tank and links it within there with the transcript as well. So I will start to draw it to a close there. And thank sincerely, Patty, Patty Kinnersly from Our Watch for today. They have some terrific resources on there and we'll provide all those links as well. So thanks very much today, Patty. My pleasure. Thank you. Keep up the good work, everyone. And that concludes this, this think tank seven. We've got one more to go in this particular series, which will be on 2nd of July. So a slightly different timing there. But I'll let you know about that. And then we're going to have a look at a series in next year. Later this year as well. So thank you very much for your participation today. I'm sure you found that very insightful and useful. And I look forward to seeing you again in future think tanks.

These are extraordinary times, the presence of COVID-19 means that each and every one of us, each and every one of us is facing our toughest ever opposition, although we stand apart if we work together as a team, as a team, and play by the rules, and play by the rules. We'll see you get back to playing and watching the sport that we love. We need your support now more than ever, more than ever. Wash your hands and listen to the advice. If we play by the rules, we'll all get through this together.