NSW Labor launches women's sport survey, MPs hold first roundtable discussion with local participants

Here if you need. Photo: Marina Neil
Here if you need. Photo: Marina Neil

The state Opposition wants to know why more women aren't playing sport, why they drop out of sport and why they're not progressing into leadership roles.

The party has launched a women's sport survey and met with a dozen players, coaches and administrators at New Lambton on Monday in what was the first of a series of roundtable talks.

Labor's sport spokeswoman Lynda Voltz said the initiative aimed to obtain a "snapshot" of what is needed to "improve equity in women's sport" and "where the infrastructure is missing".

Ms Voltz said there had historically been a lack of targeted funding to improve female participation and retention rates, as well as programs to ensure women progressed into higher roles.

She said the survey and talks, which will be held around NSW over upcoming weeks, would help the party develop funding policies.

"We're talking to women in sport about where they think government funding should go," she said.

"We can't have all the money going into male-dominated sports, it has to come to the sports that women play.

"We need to know why those women's organisations that are applying, why they aren't getting the grants.

"We need to get through those barriers and find out where we can invest money better to get the outcomes that we want."

Among those to speak yesterday was Northern NSW Football project officer Michelle Forbes, who oversees the organisation's introductory football programs.

Ms Forbes said at grassroots level, facilities and a lack of dedicated amenities were preventing increased female participation in sport.

She said men's teams were often given priority access to "already at capacity" football grounds and there were not enough fields with lighting.

TALKS: The roundtable at New Lambton on Monday.

TALKS: The roundtable at New Lambton on Monday.

"When we're starting to create more programs that allow women to come in and be a part of these sports, the ground access does become an issue," she said.

"We do need more fields. We do need more fields with lighting. If we look at it from a safety perspective, we want our females to feel safe and secure. We'd like to know we have access to those restrooms [and] change rooms. We can often be a little bit self-conscious, so it's really important to have more amenities available to women who want to participate in sport because that can often be a deterrent and barrier to them joining."

Seven-time Paralympian and Gosford MP Liesl Tesch said the initiative would look beyond infrastructure and examine how leadership participation can be improved.

"One of the stepping stones to leadership is through sport, so we want to see equity out there at a grassroots level," she said.

"It's really exciting seeing women in the AFL and the NRL, but still at grassroots level and in all the administration layers of sport we still don't have women equally represented.

"We're 51 per cent of the population ... but we're definitely not 51 per cent [of funding] and we're seeing a lot of money spent on stadiums in Sydney.

"This is not fair for regional areas and women across NSW."

CONTEST: Nova's and Uni players during a Newcastle Championship Netball match. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

CONTEST: Nova's and Uni players during a Newcastle Championship Netball match. Picture Max Mason-Hubers