Marngrook Footy Show presenter Shelley Ware has thrown her support behind moves to tackle family violence, racism, sexism and other social issues in Australian society through sporting clubs.
A new online resource, Club Respect, was launched this month to help clubs build positive cultures — and those behind the program hope its benefits will spread to the wider community.
It has been developed by the Victorian Women’s Trust and anti-bullying and violence organisation Nirodah.
“After every major sporting event there is a spike in family violence,” Ms Ware said. “Programs like Club Respect are needed in Australia because we don’t want this to be our statistic.”
“We have to start hard conversations and put plans into action, we have to call out poor and aggressive behaviour on and off the field, and there have to be consistent consequences for poor and aggressive behaviour. We need this to stop.”
“I believe without respect we cannot grow as people.”
“Thankfully sport is one way we can develop people –with clubs, coaches and support staff saying and doing the right thing in front of those who are impressionable – we can make good people off the field too.”
Victorian Women’s Trust executive director Mary Crooks said sports clubs played an important role in Australian society and could have a big influence on the way people acted.
“Sport is something that millions of Aussies have in common and clubs play an incredibly important role in our lives and society,” she said.
“Therefore, arming these mini communities with a harm prevention model that promotes a respectful culture will have a big impact.”
Club Respect co-creator Paul Zappa said sports clubs were the perfect place to begin discussions about respect, equality and healthy relationships.
National Rugby League in Victoria has tested the Club Respect model in some of its community clubs.
“We’re already seeing the positive results of working with the Club Respect approach in a number of our community-based Rugby League Clubs and we’re excited about the prospects of it rolling out further,” NRL Victoria general manager Brent Silva said.
The NRL in Western Australia and the Northern Territory also looks likely to pick up the model, Mr Zappa said.
By Wendy Caccetta