Infrastructure funding to be tied to gender equity for Victorian councils

Victorian councils will need to show their sporting facilities provide equal access to women to be eligible for infrastructure funding from July 2024.

Sarah Styles

It will make Victoria the first state in Australia to impose the requirement on local government as part of its Fair Access Policy Roadmap, which aims to improve access to and use of community sports infrastructure for women and girls.

The strategy targets groups that manage publicly owned community sports infrastructure, including local governments, and is tied to the state’s Gender Equality Act.

The legislation requires councils to consider gender equality when developing or reviewing policies, programs and services that have a “direct and significant public impact”, including community sport.

“As such, local governments are required under the Act to complete Gender Impact Assessments and to consider and promote gender equality in these community sport policies, programs and services,” the roadmap says.

In effect, the requirement means that unless councils have a gender equity plan in place by July 2024, they won’t be eligible to apply for funding to build or upgrade community sports facilities.

Inequitable access

Community Sport minister Ros Spence says many Victorian women and girls don’t have access to the best courts or grounds,  or have to make do with second-rate facilities and less convenient competition and training times.

“These barriers make it difficult for many to participate or reach their best,” she said.

Sarah Styles, director of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation,  said the new policy will ensure community sporting environments are welcoming, accessible, and inclusive for everyone.

“We’re looking forward to working with all stakeholders, wherever they are on their journey,” she said.

Writing in the roadmap, Commissioner for Gender Equality in the Public Sector, Dr Niki Vincent says women and girls have historically been overlooked when it comes to sporting activities and infrastructure.

“I look forward to this project supporting local councils to take positive action to make community sport accessible and inclusive for more people,” she said.

Support for councils

The roadmap says while some local governments are “well advanced” in implementing gender equitable access and use policies and programs.

It cites as an example Frankston City Council, which has released a Gender Inclusive Sporting Club: Self-Assessment Tool as part of its 2021-29 Active Leisure Strategy, to help clubs score their current performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

However, other councils still have a way to go and the roadmap acknowledges that some councils, especially smaller rural and regional organisations, will face challenges to “bring gender equitable access and use policies and programs to life.”

Phased approach

The roadmap features three key phases: education, readiness and progress.

Training, education and support fior local councils will be provided by the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in the first phase commencing this year.

The roadmap says councils don’t necessarily need a standalone gender policy, but can embed equitable access approaches in other areas such as sport and recreation strategies or public health and wellbeing plans.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required