DPV Health designed and rolled out a project centred on capacity building and social marketing to build and sustain a gender inclusive, respectful and safe environment for women in five football clubs within Victoria’s City of Hume council area.
The project aimed to change sexist and masculine-dominated elements of the game’s culture, ensuring it is respectful and inclusive of women, allowing girls and women to take leadership roles at different levels.
Working with the Australian Football League (AFL) Victoria, the Essendon District Football League (EDFL) and the Hume City Council Sports and Recreation Department, we designed training and resources to help clubs create supportive structures, processes and policies.
This included a series of workshops for the committee and club members which were facilitated by former Australian Rules player and politician, and prevention of violence against women advocate Phil Cleary. The workshops attracted approximately 400 participants representing different ages, background and genders.
We also conducted a forum, ‘Getting Gender in the Game’ at which Phil Cleary and current AFL Women’s competition player Darcy Vescio discussed gender equality. More than 60 people attended the forum.
To complement our technical and capacity building efforts, we developed social marketing resources—including posters, banners and a video called Respect: Join the Club—to help clubs create awareness around preventing violence against women.
We chose to roll out the project in the City of Hume council area because reported incidents of family violence in Hume have significantly increased by 14 per cent since 2012/13 from 2,555 incidents to 2,909. This is nearly double the Victorian average of 7.4 per cent over the same period.
Victoria Police data from 2016/17 show family violence incidents per 100,000 of the population ranks Hume as recording the third highest family violence incidents reported from council areas across the state.
We chose Australian rules football clubs for the project because they are male-dominated community organisations that have the power to be part of the solution in advocating for a gender inclusive sports culture to help end violence against women.
Evaluation of the workshops and forum demonstrated that participants committed to use respectful and inclusive language on and off the field.
The Respect: Join the Club video which was posted on both the EDFL and DPV Health Facebook pages, and received a combined 136 shares and 15,400 views.
We also assessed the reach and effectiveness of the video. Results from that survey revealed that 66.6 per cent of participants cared about gender equality and 100 per cent found that the contents of the video were relevant to them.
“Football is more than a game for the boys. It truly involves families and has come full circle with this in recent years with the rapid rise of the female game.” – (survey participant).