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Since our earliest days, the Darebin Women’s Sports Club has offered a safe space where our members can be themselves and share a sense of belonging, developing skills and creating fun and friendship, to thrive as people on and off the field.
The capacity of sports as a platform has been well established, with important links with healthy growth and development particularly for young people. However, disparities in ability and opportunity to participate in physical activity continue to reflect limitations and inequities. People can be excluded, ostracised, certain life events can create vulnerabilities or barriers to prioritising health. Through the Inclusion and Diversity Program’s focus on inequity, the club can explore how sport can be offered in safe and enabling environments, showcasing the wider range of options to play sport.
In 2022, we further affirmed our commitment to sport being available to everyone through the development and implementation of our Gender Inclusion Policy, focusing on eliminating discrimination on grounds of gender identity and intersex status to support opportunities for participation in our club irrespective of gender identity, gender expression and/or intersex status.
Our Inclusion and Diversity programs further extend our commitment to the inclusion and participation in sport of girls, women and gender diverse people, with objectives to:
- Reach out to diverse groups across the Darebin and neighbouring communities who are often excluded from sport, including
- Offer opportunities to experience the physical health and wellbeing benefits of being active
- Empower girls, women and gender diverse people as leaders
- Develop skills and offer pathways to the Darebin Falcons sporting teams when appropriate
Our methodology is simple and engaging: football based sessions (soccer or Australian Rules) as the touch point for engagement – with physical activity and its myriad physical, social and psychological health and wellbeing benefits; with pathways to organised sport; or as soft entry to social supports and services.
Delivered by Darebin Falcon alumni and AFLW players, programs can extend beyond physical activity to themes of women’s and gender diverse empowerment and leadership, both on and off the field.
All programs are flexible and tailored to the needs of the community groups with whom we partner to deliver sessions.
The lived experience of our Falcons alumni -from football as a marginalised, even scorned, activity for women and gender diverse people to mainstream and celebrated – is of itself an important social lesson in learning to trust in the power, strength and capability of the body and through this, to empowerment and leadership. This journey is the essence of the DWSC Inclusion and Diversity work, witnessed in the smiles of our program participants, none more so than children in women’s refuges looking at their mum’s in amazement as they run and kick a ball.
In 2022, we were privileged to have received Jump Start! funding from VicHealth enabling us to expand our community inclusion and diversity programs by employing Darebin Women’s Sports Club Life Member, Aasta O’Connor as our inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Manager.
Learn more about our Jump Start! grant here
Learn more about our inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Manager, Aasta O’Connor here
Under Aasta’s leaderships, programs undertaken or planned with our Inclusion and Diversity community partners include:
- Croxton Special school: Weekly Footy Funability sessions for children with disabilities
- Good Samaritan Inn: Weekly sessions for women and their children escaping family violence
- City of Darebin: 6 week Get Active footy program for girls and gender diverse participants
- Thornbury Learning Centre, Thornbury High School: Year 7 transition, Leadership and Empowerment Program for students with disabilities and other students
- The Drum: programs for youth living in community housing
- QueerSpace: sessions for youth 12-25 who identify as Queer
- Falcons Academy: Incorporating sessions for children with disabilities and gender diverse young people in our school holiday programs
- Multicultural Miniroos : run in conjunction with the Darebin Falcons junior soccer program
- Darebin Falcons Young Leaders program: developing belief and confidence to lead across our junior soccer and footy programs.
If you are connected to an organisation or community who would be interested in our community sessions, or want to find out more, contact [email protected]. We are particularly interested in extending our links with multicultural communities. If this is you, please let us know!