Vicsport states that “The Australian Community is one of the most diverse in the world”. A Sports Club should be a reflection of its local community. Many regions around Australia are becoming increasingly rich in multiculturalism and CaLD communities. If the clubs in these regions don’t attempt to embrace and engage these communities in their programs, then it is going to be an uphill battle to stay afloat in the coming years, simply because they won’t be able to sustain high enough participation rates if they don’t tap into these great resources at their doorstep.
As the Department of Sport and Recreation Western Australia points out, “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse refers to the wide range of cultural groups and individuals that make up the Australian population. It includes groups and individuals who differ according to religion, race, language and ethnicity, except those whose ancestry in Anglo-Saxon, Anglo Celtic, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander”.
At the heart of any sporting organisation or club is its participation rates. Sporting Clubs simply cannot function without a healthy rate of athletes participating in their events. CaLD communities provide a huge opportunity for clubs to increase and maintain their levels of participation which otherwise may be dwindling away. This will also help to create an inclusive culture at your club, which is something that all local sporting clubs should be striving for.
Providing access opportunities for, and engaging multicultural communities should be an important consideration for any local sports club. The way in which your club develops and implements certain programs is critical to your success of engaging CaLD communities who make up a large percentage of the population. Programs or initiatives that successfully engage a CaLD community in your area will be respectful of their culture and values.
Barriers to Participation within CaLD communities
There are many different types of CaLD communities in Australia and with this comes different barriers to sport participation. One of the key steps in the inclusion of a CaLD community that needs to be taken at your club is understanding the specific needs of that community. This will help you to recognise certain limitations and barriers to participation that this community is faced with so you can then work at eliminating these barriers where possible. For example, there may be communities in your area who speak a language other than English so communicating with them may be hard. Providing a translated version of your club’s flier or newsletter is one way of eliminating this type of barrier.
The Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues (CMYI), with the help of LOTE marketing, undertook a research project to examine the involvement of CaLD young people in Leisure centres within the City of Yarra. Among other things, they found several common barriers to participation to be things like the cost of membership, lack of culturally appropriate programs, lack of time and lack of encouragement by parents. More findings here: http://www.cmy.net.au/Assets/167/1/CMYICityofYarraLeisureProject.pdf
Steps to help promote CaLD inclusion
There are three main steps involved in successfully promoting and nurturing the inclusion of CaLD communities at your club. These steps include inviting CaLD communities to the club, welcoming them to the club, and understanding and respecting their needs and their culture when running your club. Examples of strategies that can be used in achieving all three of these steps are listed below:
- Providing fliers in languages other than English about your club and its programs to the CaLD communities in your area.
- Talking to key CaLD community leaders and invite them to the club.
- Advertise the invitation through ethno specific radio and newspapers.
- Have “come and try” days at your club for CaLD communities.
- Strong Induction Processes – Once you have invited a community into your club, you must make sure they feel involved and engaged immediately. This will help them feel a sense of belonging which will keep them coming back to the club.
- Adjusting training and playing times to respect the culture of the CaLD community.
- Providing different food and drink options at the club canteen.
- Encouraging a member of a CaLD community to be on your club committee to help look after the needs of their community, as well as helping the club to be culturally sensitive.
- Offering discounted memberships to suit their situation.
Migrants and Refugees
- Helping to build an understanding of the issues that affect the level of involvement of people from a multicultural background
- Providing practical strategies to recruit and retain this target group in sport
- Modelling successful strategies and programs currently adopted by a variety of sports across Australia
- Provide data on available support network and resource centres
- Making available important support tools such as guidelines and templates
Programs like this, and many others are becoming increasingly available to help local sporting club volunteers effectively manage the task of engaging CaLD communities. The overall benefits to your club of this engagement are huge to both the club and the CaLD communities.
There are also many funding programs and grants available that can help your club in implementing strategies that encourage the engagement and participation of multicultural communities.
Respecting and welcoming all the different cultures around your club is a key element to success and something that all clubs should strive to do.