At the Falcons, our Inclusion and Diversity programs aim to reach out to groups across the Darebin community who are often excluded from sport, introduce them to the fun and wellbeing benefits of being active, and develop social and physical skills. Jump Start! funding from VicHealth has created the opportunity for Darebin to partner with the Good Samaritan Inn.
The Good Samaritan Inn (GSI) is a specialist service providing accommodation and support for women, children and young people who are experiencing family violence and homelessness. Through this partnership, the Falcons provide weekly sessions for women and children residing in refuge accommodation. The primary aims were to give residents an opportunity to participate in movement, to give them activities to enjoy, to gain confidence in their physical power and strength – and to simply have some feel-good, light-hearted, fun!
There are important links between sport, physical movement and emotional wellbeing. At times, the women and children staying here will come with a build-up of stress caused by experiences of trauma, and the sessions with the Falcons are an opportunity to start to release some of this stress. There are so many benefits for people who engage in sports and physical movement. The tailored sessions that Aasta facilitates not only help people to focus more effectively and be more mindful, but also to communicate and work together with others.
For these women and children, the trauma of family violence has taken away their access to safety and basic needs. Social, community, education and employment connections can be dislocated and the place that was meant to be their safe haven, doesn’t exist. Access to resources and supports may have been cut off by a controlling partner. Women and children have had to leave their homes, and their daily activities and routines have been disrupted. The violence in the home can have immediate and long term effects for women and children, including impacting on their ability to access physical activity. “Even simply coming to the crisis accommodation can mean children miss out on regular sports activities offered in their schools.”
The programs at the Good Samaritan Inn are diverse, and tailored to the women and children’s needs and experiences, with the primary aim of fostering positive family relationships and repairing the bond between parent and child with a strength-based focus.
Not only working to ensure families are physically safe, the team at the Good Samaritan Inn work in a person-centred way to support victim survivors regain their personal strength and sense of self. The activities are based on people’s own interests, and focusing on the assets that individuals and communities need for health and wellbeing. By including physical activity in weekly activities, staff, women and children can connect, play together, and learn new things about themselves and each other.
“For some, the experiences of family violence have diminished the parent role. As well as sessions contributing to individual healing, being able to include children in the sessions has been valuable. Physical play and sports activities can be important to help repair these bonds too”
The Darebin Inclusion and Diversity program extends the club’s strength in creating safe and inclusive environments for women, girls and gender diverse people in sport. Unlike many sports clubs where women are still significantly underrepresented in sports administration roles, at Darebin, the club fosters leadership and governance skills, as well as empowerment and self-belief. It is one of the reasons why the club’s most successful leaders continue to be involved in grassroots programs, generous and accessible within the community. The Diversity and Inclusion Program offers resources for the club to share resources, and strengths, and to reflect those lessons learnt through pioneering teams and approaches that centre on women and girls.
Women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds may have not been exposed to Australian football before, never kicked or handballed a football – the women find the experience novel and share with family and friends who live overseas
The program is very positive, and it accommodates a broad age range of children and adult victim survivors.
Having Aasta come onsite is fantastic, the children and adults alike respond to her professionalism, and love being involved in the sessions. There is also a thrill about knowing Aasta’s own sporting career and achievements.
The Darebin and Good Samaritan Inn partnership bring together many shared values, to instil in each person involved with hope and the belief that change is possible. The activities are centred on support for individuals, so that they can be empowered to make clear and informed decisions about their next steps and their future lives. With the support of VicHealth and our generous Darebin Falcon sponsors, Rams Home Loans Northcote and Sequana Partners, the program can take place right in the Good Samaritan Inn backyard each week over a long period of time and can extend to other family violence services and programs.