Young People, Refugees and CMY's Game Plan
Carmel Guerra from the Centre for Multicultural Youth talks about their Game Plan for Young People and Refugees in Sport
Good morning everybody. It’s lovely to be here. Even though I’m one of the organisers I am really struggling with this Ted talk, hold your papers, put your glasses, hold your microphone business so I’m going to try my best!
I’ve been interested in the power of sport and the capacity for it to be a source of social inclusion for a long time. We were talking about it at CMY in 1998 when everybody was telling us that the young people we worked with weren’t joining clubs. We knew on the ground from the young people we worked with that they were playing sport, they just weren’t playing in the clubs, that sport was running, so we did the first research report called ‘Creating a Level Playing Field’ which challenged that notion and that’s where our journey began.
We discovered that actually young people were playing. They loved sport. They just didn’t like the way it was being played and secondly I’d like to say how interesting it is actually in light of today how things have changed but yet some things remain the same.
We’ve continued our work in that space and I’ll talk to you a little bit later about the Game Plan Resource that we’d developed but I’d like to start by some stats. I know stats can be a bit boring. I might just drop those but most of us know that we are multicultural but just so you know, 33% of the youth population in Victoria comes from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. We take in over 200,000 people per year through a range of programs of which close to 50 or 60% of those people who enter come from a non-English speaking background so it is a reality. I think most of us know that but it’s good to remind ourselves.
The other bit of research I wanted to refer to and I do feel fortunate, we are a national audience here - I know there are but I do work in Victoria and Vic Health if it’s not known I think in the sports sector, Vic Health is known to most of you do outstanding research work and they’ve done a sensational piece of work recently where they contracted the CSIRO called the ‘Bright Futures Report’. This is what it looks like if people haven’t seen it but I would recommend anybody who’s interested in the health and wellbeing of young people in the community and what the world is going to look like in 20 years to have a read of this report and what I’m going to refer to is one of the megatrends that they talk about which is the megatrend relating to life’s richer tapestry and it talks about the future of young people that if we want an economically socially prosperous society we need young people to be doing well so in this report it talks about what will the future look like in 20 years for young people.
What it tells us is that we are going to be more diverse. It’s going to be a society driven by major change in society in the consumer market where identifying what is mainstream is going to be really difficult. This then identifies whether the same models we’ve had of approaches of ‘One six fits all’ is going to continue or whether we need to be more nuanced about that. Often it will be difficult or impossible to identify what is the dominant or mainstream perspective of an issue so this shift towards an even more diverse landscape is unavoidable. It creates challenges for many. However, it also creates opportunities. There is more scope for a young person to find their unique identity within a social group and community. Diversity also generates a rich bag of new ideas and therefore solutions often to complex problems that might not have been considered before.
Further of course and no surprise to this audience and Tim, our Race Discrimination Commissioner referred to it talks about that racism is likely to increase as our society becomes more culturally, religiously and racially diverse and we know of a range of reports I won’t go into about sport being a site where great work is done but also where sport is a site where racism exists so you might be saying, “What does this mean and why is it relevant to this audience?” I’m sure most of you aren’t thinking that but in case there are I’m going to join some dots!
We know the power of sport to unite, connect, invigorate and inspire. We know that the Socceroos winning, the Diamonds winning netball create national pride and motivate young people to play sport. Interestingly again and we are going to become much more non-Victorian based AFL with our later speakers but living in Melbourne the romance of the Bulldogs winning over the weekend in the AFL Grand Final which is a very working class multicultural suburb of Melbourne winning and they have a very strong footprint in the multicultural community provides an excellent example of how sport can contribute to a sense of community connection.
The challenge for the sports sector in my opinion based on the information I’ve given you is to adapt and evolve to this change in environment so I want to pose two questions for discussion today. Firstly I strongly believe and I think it’s well documented in a range of these reports I refer to that sport needs to, if you’re not already starting to fundamentally change your structure and delivery modes to engage with this changed environment to remain relevant. I know with the sports I work with they are starting to do that already so that means you need to think about how you structure your club, your competitions, your membership and participation at all levels. Some sports have done that and we’re going to hear about some of those good stories today who have reflected on how to be more inclusive and welcoming.
I’ve had the pleasure over the last 10 years to work with a range of sports but a great example is Surf Lifesaving Victoria. I don’t think Dave Holland is in the audience but we started 10 years ago at them looking at wanting to work with a range of different groups and they’ve taken an excellent approach at having nothing to now overhauling the whole way they recruit, train and employ people at that level. We’ve seen as well - Paul and I have been privileged to work with Netball Australia - I think Julie is here and speaking later about the thinking they’ve done about changing the whole way the sport engages with multicultural communities and of course I’ve heard about the AFL and a range of other sports that have done that. We know that they are at the forefront of organisation, adaptation and community engagement and it’s the experience of CMY that a collaborative approach is the only way forward. It has been the success factor that we’ve identified.
Sports have come to us, sourced advice and guidance and want to know how to connect with young people and their families because we and other organisations like us scattered around Australia have the links, understandings and knowledge, the key component being that sports do what they do best which is deliver sports programs and look to adapt and augment what they do to be more inclusive.
Historically sports have tried to do it all on their own and many organisations like CMY have watched from afar when that has occurred. We as NGOs have tried to be sport deliverers - a complete waste of our resources, time and energy. What we should be doing is working together. If sports bodies don’t start to reflect and question it is likely you will become completely irrelevant to the groups of young people and families we work with. Many refugee groups are already creating their own structures to engage in sport and leisure activities completely outside these sporting structures and mechanisms.
CMY to give my plug now and thank you SRV - I think some of our funders are in the audience so thank you – have provided some resources to us to develop the Game Plan Resource which is a culmination of our 10 years work in putting together in one resource on an online which provides information for sporting organisations to make themselves inclusive and make change. It’s not the panacea but I think it is a tool that you can utilise. It provides a series of resources to guide you through the steps to engage and with multicultural communities to retain them in your clubs as members, players, coaches, trainers and leaders.
The second challenge - I’m doing okay with time Tracy - I’m impressed! Okay, the second challenge is actually what I see more of an opportunity which is for the sports sector to set itself up in a much more visible organised way as a platform for promoting social cohesion. If you can indulge me I will talk about one project that CMY runs in Victoria which I think is an example of that and I’m sure we’re going to hear later today of some others. We run a program called ‘I speak football’ and it’s a program delivered in partnership with one of our large soccer or football clubs in Melbourne, Melbourne City Football Club but it’s quite different because it’s youth led and uses football to tackle social inclusion. We use soccer because soccer is the sport of choice with the young people we work with but by no means could you not look at this model and trial it with other sports. We’re currently doing that at the moment so what we do is train a number of young people from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds including those who are Australian born to facilitate a program that builds their confidence, their leadership to deliver programs to students from schools in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne. The program involves soccer and sessions around soccer but importantly around themes of inclusion, diversity, learning and development.
Furthermore what we do the young people interested in wanting to expand their skills in coaching and refereeing are referred to the Football Federation of Victoria who does that for free so therefore these young people have a pathway into coaching and refereeing and casual part-time work that we find is very difficult for this cohort of young people we work for and for most of them it’s a great opportunity to combine something they love and getting paid for it at the same time.
Just a couple of points I’d like to finish on that might get us thinking for the discussion later. Sport and recreation can provide a positive point of contact with members of society. We’ve seen that work. It is a platform where the young people we work with say “They meet Australians” - quote unquote. It is an important mechanism for that. It also fosters a sense of responsibility to others and a sense of common purpose and of course it can be a mechanism for generating social inclusion and promoting trust, leadership and confidence in yourself and the society particularly if you’re new to this society. Therefore the NGO sector and particularly CMY in Victoria is looking to partner with the sports industry to create this new vehicle for change. It is all our responsibility to work together to ensure we nurture and maintain our socially cohesive society. It just doesn’t happen by accident. We have to work on it and we need to do it together.
So it is up to the sports industry I think to start. If you haven’t started imagining already yourself in this new paradigm and see this diversity and change in society as an opportunity for you. We are ready and CMY looks forward to continue to partnership with the many sports we have worked with in Victoria and also look forward to this kind of conversation continuing as you all embark on a new journey.