Hello everyone. Thank you for welcoming me today and for inviting me to share some thoughts and celebrate this Diversity Round with you. While I unfortunately cannot attend in person, I am excited to have the opportunity to wish you well for this year’s Diversity Round.
I want to start by respectfully acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which the Diversity Round is taking place today, the Wadawurrung people, and I pay my respect to their Elders past, present, and to their emerging leaders. I also acknowledge the traditional owners of the land where I reside, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation. May I also extend that respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in attendance today.
Importantly, I want to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of First Nations people to the Australian sporting sector, and the leadership of First Nations communities in driving the push for greater equality and inclusion in sport. We see an ongoing need for our institutions, including those in the sporting sector, to do more to listen to these voices and take meaningful action for change.
Sport is an arena in which the values of equality, fairness, and participation are celebrated. Sport also holds a unique place in Australian society and can greatly promote social change, including by contributing to building a culture of understanding, inclusion, and anti-racism. Celebrating diversity and addressing racism in sport will support racial equity and fairness in other parts of Australian society.
Sport is the place that brings people together, whatever your background, and it is also the place where we learn to respect and understand each other.
We have, unfortunately, seen over the last few years that racism continues to present challenges for all in the sporting sector. It impacts on the ability of all people to participate equally and to belong and feel safe in sport. It also sends negative messages to the broader community and contributes to undermining our societal norms of respect, harmony, and equality.
I believe we have the commitment and tools we need to address this issue. We can see how First Nations peoples and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities have been leading the work for racial equality and safety in sport and continue to offer solutions to the challenges that racism poses.
In July, the Australian Human Rights Commission relaunched the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign. This campaign aims to encourage Australians, and particularly those without lived experience of racism, to commit to learning more about racism and taking action against it.
The Racism. It Stops With Me campaign has often worked in partnership with sporting codes to promote anti-racism initiatives and support sports fans and participants to identify and challenge racism. Last year, in consultation with sporting codes, the Campaign released the Guidelines for Addressing Spectator Racism In Sport to promote best practice responses to spectator racism at the professional sporting level. These guidelines and the supporting resources also aim to start the conversation about how racism at the institutional and systemic level, if remains unaddressed, undermines efforts to address spectator racism, as well as the need for sporting codes and the sporting fraternity to take meaningful action to ensure sport remains a safe and inclusive space for all.
There is a lot more that we can all do when it comes to reflecting on the reasons and causes of inequality, educating ourselves, and creating change to promote a more equal and inclusive community. And today it starts here with you and us.
This Diversity Round, I want to congratulate the Ballarat City Football Club and Football Victoria for hosting the game and extend my congratulations to the players and all the volunteers that make today possible. I know these important events can only happen through the tireless work of volunteers. A shout-out to Stacey Berlund, whose work pulling today’s event together was brought to my attention and ultimately led to this opportunity for me to connect with you all today. I also want to thank Nick Hatzoglou of Football Victoria for his tremendous ongoing support and tireless commitment to soccer and anti-racism work.
Once again, I would like to thank Ballarat City Football Club and Football Victoria for inviting me to join you today, and I wish you a great day of enjoyment and the teams the very best of luck!