City of Newcastle Council is refusing to renew a local tennis club’s license to manage public courts unless the club allows women to be members.
Adamstown Rosebud Tennis Club, which has been managing the Adamstown Park Tennis Courts on behalf of Council for 50 years, does not allow women to become members.
This has meant that until recently, women were denied discounted hiring rates available only to members.
The arrangement was brought to the attention of council by top Newcastle player Emma Pollock who contacted Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes late last year after she was refused membership of the club.
Following subsequent discussions the club changed its pricing structure to extend the discount to non-members. However it has refused to amend its constitution to allow women to become members, City of Newcastle says.
In a letter to the club on Friday council said the exclusion of women under the constitution is unacceptable.
“This is not acceptable as it does not accord with the values of equity and non-discrimination which City of Newcastle promotes internally and in the community,” the letter said.
Council also notified the club that it would terminate its current management agreement on July 1 “unless and until the tennis club amends its constitution to provide women members with the same status, rights and obligations.”
Adamstown Rosebud Tennis Club secretary Phil Baker told Government News the club has requested a face-to-face meeting with council to try and resolve the issue. He said it would be up to members to decide whether or not the club’s constitution should be rewritten to include women.
He said he did not believe the current constitution was discriminatory.
“We’re a male tennis club and and we have been for 50 years,” he said. “I don’t think that’s particularly unique, being a gender-specific sporting club in any sport.”
Cr Nelmes says council is seeking a fair resolution.
“There is no place in our city for this type of discrimination,” she said in a statement. “We are committed to addressing inequality and creating a caring and inclusive community. This includes making our city’s assets available for the enjoyment of everyone.”
Ms Pollock said she was extremely disappointed by what she described as blatant gender inequality.
“I reached out to the Newcastle City Council who have played an integral role in addressing the issue, communicating with Adamstown Rosebuds Tennis Association and supporting gender equality,” she said.
“I hope that bringing this issue to the public’s attention will encourage all sporting clubs across Australia to support fairness and gender equality.”
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