Gender equality in sport

02 August 2017

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Madam Speaker I rise to speak in support of this motion.

This motion is timely as it is an incredibly exciting time in women’s sport, and it is appropriate for the Assembly to reflect on this and the steps we have taken in assisting the progress made in recent years.

The last two years have seen tremendous development in women’s sport at the elite level.

The 2015-16 summer of cricket saw the launch of the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League.

Players like Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and ACT Meteor Erin Osborne were broadcast into our living rooms.

So successful were the ratings that the Ten Network extended its coverage and shifted telecasts to its main channel.

In 2017 the AFL launched its inaugural season of the AFL Women’s competition.

Across the competition, Canberra was well represented, no more so than by former Canberra Capital Jess Bibby who hung up her high tops for a pair off cleats to join the Giants leadership group.

Canberra also witnessed one of the first ever games of women’s footy, with the Giants taking on the Bulldogs at Manuka Oval.

2017 also saw the reconfiguration of elite netball in Australia, with a new national netball competition.

The arrangements for the new competition doubled the minimum salary for players and raised the average salary to $67,500.

The significance of this in terms of a women’s right to wage equality cannot be understated.

While this should be congratulated we must recognise that there is still a long way to go with many players having to maintain paid employment alongside netball.

So much has happened in women’s sport in recent years that the ABC felt it time to launch the first television sports program presented and produced by women.

While it’s frustrating it took us until the year 2017 to do this, it does again reflect the changing attitudes towards women.

It is also an exciting time in women’s sport in the ACT.

In the W League, Canberra United, who play their home games out of McKellar Park in my electorate, will later this year begin their defence of the regular season title.

The team will no doubt be bolstered by the return of Hayley Raso, who has just played in the Matilda’s first ever win over Team USA.

I am also looking forward to the start of the WNBL season as the Canberra Capitals continue to rebuild their squad.

They have already made a number of signings with Australian Opal Rachel Jarry and seven time WNBL championship winner Natalie Hurst returning home.

The ACT Government is committed to the ongoing success of these teams and their continued presence in the ACT.

In this year’s budget the Canberra Capitals will receive $250,000 a year in funding and Canberra United $125,000.

In addition, the ACT Government will deliver on a promise to install a permanent basketball court at the National Convention Centre, bringing the Capitals into the city.

The presence of these elite teams in the ACT has meant that Canberrans have been fortunate enough to see some of the greatest players ever to play these sports in recent years.

The Canberra Capitals and the AIS were home to basketball great Lauren Jackson for much of her career.

Lauren Jackson is one of the best basketball players to have ever played.

To list everything Lauren achieved in her basketball career would likely take the entire time scheduled for this debate.

To then list the work Lauren has done outside of basketball, particularly in and around the Canberra region would likely force a dinner break this evening.

To put things succinctly however, throughout her career Lauren Jackson was compared with Michael Jordan, highlighting the fact that if she had been born a man she would be one of the best known athletes in history, not to mention one of the richest.

Ellyse Perry came to Canberra United in 2009, and won the club Player of the Year award in her first season.

Although she was only 19 at the time, Ellyse had already spent three years playing in both the Australian Soccer and Cricket teams.

Let’s just reflect on that for a moment.

At age 16, Ellyse Perry was representing Australia internationally in two sports.

Nowadays cricket has taken precedent for Ellyse, where she is arguably the best player in the world.

The ACT Government’s commitment ensures that Canberra will continue to play host to athletes like Lauren and Ellyse.

Ongoing support for professional sporting teams and venues in the ACT ensures that teams like the Canberra Capitals, Canberra United, and the GWS Giants will remain in the capital.

This means every Canberran will have the opportunity to witness some of the greatest athletes ply their trade.

But it isn’t just a good look Canberrans obtain from this funding.

As we would all know, elite sporting clubs do an incredible amount of good within our communities.

Our athletes regularly offer their time to attend sports clinics, schools and hospitals to mentor, coach and inspire our youngsters.


Earlier this year, both the Giants netball and football sides played their first ever home games in the ACT.

The Giants have established Canberra as an academy base for both sports with links to the Canberra Giants netball program and Canberra AFL.

To demonstrate these links, both teams made themselves available for coaching clinics and to meet fans.

At such a pivotal time in women’s sport these athletes act as role models for the young women of Canberra.

The advancements in women’s sport today reflect the progress made in women’s affairs more broadly.

Our young women, whether they be professional athletes or playing in the thirds at their local club will all continue to advance the cause that this generation of women and those that came before them progressed.

For this reason it is also important that we continue to support sport at the grassroots level and to continue to make it more accessible to women.

As part of the implementation of the ACT Women’s Plan, the ACT Government held an Education Forum to identify practices within schools which promote or discourage girls’ participation in sport and active recreation.

The discussion identified how sports infrastructure can act as a deterrent to some women’s participation.

Seemingly small things such as poor lighting and bathroom facilities can have large impacts in discouraging young women from participating.

Madam Speaker, to begin to address these issues, this year’s Budget commences the next phase of increasing women’s participation in sport through the implementation of the ACT Women’s Plan.

We are investing $500,000 to help deliver more female friendly sports infrastructure, enabling more women to take to the sports field.

This approach can be seen in the recent redevelopment of the Gowrie Oval amenities.

Many of the projects funded through the Community Football Infrastructure Program will also adopt these measures, as will the design of the upgraded pavilion at Southwell Park and forthcoming upgrades to the Narrabundah Ball Park.

This motion calls on the government to continue to work with the local sports community to continue to increase women’s participation in sport in the ACT.

This is something I am fully supportive of.

As Member for Yerrabi, earlier this year I was invited to attend the Pink Stumps Day at the Bonner Royals Cricket Club.

It was great to see so many local women involved in sport and to have a go myself, although I did only manage a few runs before being bowled out.


For these women, and the young women coming through our schools, our female athletes are important role models.

With a dearth of female superheroes, our women need real heroes to look up to.

Heroes like Canberra’s Susan Pettit who I was lucky enough to see star earlier this year for Giants Netball in their win over the Vixens.

As we invest in women’s participation in sports here in the ACT, I can’t help but be excited that the investment we’re making now might play some small part in producing the next Susan Pettit.

This motion calls on the government to do just that.

This motion calls on the government to help enable women to be the best they can be in their sport.

It calls on the ACT to support these and the many other measures in place to continue the progression towards equality for women and I call on all members to support it.