The 7 Pillars of Inclusion is a broad framework to give your sport or recreation club a starting point to address inclusion and diversity. It's a framework that has been adopted by a number of national and state sports organisations but could equally be applied to your local club. A practical way to use the 7 Pillars is to get together with the key decision makers of your organisation and work through each Pillar and assess where your organisation fits.
How do people get to your venue and get in? Is it accessible to people with a disability? Is it safe to walk to and from your club and venue? What about public transport? Are fixtures held on a day religiously significant for the largest ethnic group in your community? Are people able to find out about your club and what it offers? Do they have access to the right information in their language or in a format they can understand? Watch the interview with Graeme Innes.
How do you feel about inclusion? Is your club ready to welcome people with disability or those from a different cultural background? Your answer is probably ‘yes’ but the truth is that most people’s good intentions don’t often translate into action. If they did, the statistics above would look very different. Modifying policy, practices, processes and activities to become truly inclusive may seem like a huge task but it doesn’t have to be. Why not tackle inclusion in stages? Talk about it, gather ideas and run an event that targets a particular population group in your community, eg. young children with disability or new migrants from Sudan. You can learn a lot from one event and it may not be as hard as you think. Watch the interview with Peter Downs.
Lack of choice is often given as a reason for non-participation, especially for people with disability. Some simple adaptations to equipment, rules or policies may open up choices for a marginalised group of people. So, what’s the best way to create more choice for more people? Talk to the people who want to be involved. They can tell you what services they are after, what prevents them from being involved and what needs to be changed. Watch the interview with Hamish Macdonald.
You don’t need to tackle inclusion on your own. There will be other organisations in your community who share your inclusion goals and will work collaboratively with your club to achieve a common objective. They may be private corporations, not-for-profits, public agencies or government departments. Sharing resources, experience, data and information will benefit all partners. Remember though that successful partnerships must be open, honest and respectful and communication is paramount. Watch the interview with Paul Oliver.
Does your communication reflect your commitment to inclusion? Look for opportunities to let people know that your club is inclusive. Think about where people from different ethnic groups gather in your community. What about people with disability? Is there a place where your flyers or advertising will have the greatest impact? Use a variety of mediums and channels to communicate your message. Your message may need to be translated into another language to have maximum impact. Make sure your social media and your website reflect your commitment to inclusion. What about the way you communicate? Use simple, direct language and avoid stereotypes. Your club’s culture of inclusion should be obvious for all to see. Watch the interview with Debbie Simms.
Getting the policy right is perhaps the first thing your club should do when aiming to move to a more inclusive framework. Good policy offers clear direction and guidelines for everyone involved in the sport and it will help to set realistic and consistent goals and objectives. Your club policy should reflect the rules and processes of the relevant government agencies as well as those of your governing sport. Often, in the process of discussing and developing policy, clubs are able to really examine issues and devise effective solutions. Watch the interview with Carl Currey.
So, why do we need to bother at all with inclusion? We are all products of our environments and communities (good and bad) and sport plays such an important role in our culture and our identity as Australians. Participation in sport has so much value beyond the sport itself. Sport helps us to be healthy, make friends and learn new skills. But it also assists in the growth and development of communities. These types of opportunities should be available to all people, regardless of their cultural background, their level of ability, their gender, religion or sexuality. Watch the interview with Pino Migliorino.
Play by the Rules has a range of inclusive resources that will help you understand and take action to help your sport reflect the community you are in. These include:
Play by the Rules has worked with Swimming Australia and Netball Australia on the development of a self-assessment tool that sports can use to measure their own rating against each of the pillars. You can see the website for the 7 Pillars here – 7pillarsofinclusion.com. If a tool such as this interests your sport them please get in touch.