The conversation

The City of Melbourne is embarking on the Fair Access project. This project is in response to the Victorian Government Office of Women and Girls - 2022, Fair Access Policy Roadmap. 

The City of Melbourne’s Fair Access project seeks to identify ways to reduce barriers and increase the participation rates of women, girls and other underrepresented groups.

This project will result in a new council policy and action plan that aims to eliminate systemic causes of gender inequality, ableism and cultural bias in infrastructure allocation, programs, communications and delivery of services.

Gathering insights

In September 2023, we undertook consultation with users and non-users of community sport and recreation facilities, to identify barriers to participation and understand what actions council could take to overcome these.

We facilitated a range of activities, including information sessions, focus group sessions, pop ups, and interviews to inform and seek feedback about Fair Access. These activities sought to engage sports and recreation clubs, as well as community members, in particular people living with a disability, multicultural communities, Aboriginal peoples, LGBTIQA+ and gender diverse community members, and international students.

Who we reached

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survey respondents

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information session attendees

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focus group participants

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in-depth interviews

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written submissions

What we heard

Participation in activities

The activities participants were most interested in included swimming (particularly women only sessions), gym or group fitness, martial arts, and tennis, with some respondents expressing interest to try a variety of field sports. The activities with the least amount of interest included baseball, rugby, and cricket.

Barriers to participation

The barriers for user groups were largely about facilities and safety, including:

  • the need for lighting, facility condition and design improvements, cleanliness, and equitable allocation and scheduling of facilities,
  • limited resources, including low awareness of gender equity and inclusion issues,
  • low recruitment and retention of volunteers and committee members are barriers to facilitating more gender equitable activities and initiatives.

The key barriers that emerged for non users included time, scheduling or competing demands, cost and fees, and lack of confidence. Additionally, many respondents across underrepresented groups expressed issues related to inclusion, including:

  • inadequate facilities,
  • experiencing incidences of discrimination (indirect and direct),
  • staff and coaches not having appropriate training,
  • no opportunities to participate in ways that are modified,
  • lack of inclusive indicators (flags, signage) and not seeing people like them participating as a player or leader, including in promotional materials.

Suggested actions

Suggested actions were identified to increase participation. The actions were grouped into 13 key findings:
  • Ensure safety getting to and from, and participating at community sport and recreation facilities at night.
  • Provide well designed and maintained sport and recreation facilities to meet their needs.
  • Ensure community members feel welcome and included at community sport and recreation facilities.
  • Provide access to sport and recreation facilities and activities at convenient times and locations.
  • Provide nearby facilities that enable participation in the sport and recreation activities that are of interest.
  • Provide opportunities to participate in sport and recreation in different ways, including activities that are more social, fun, non-competitive/routine, modified, culturally appropriate and family friendly.
  • Provide easier introductions to sport and recreation activities that are non-threatening, build skills and confidence, and provide a range of pathways.
  • Provide suitable pricing for those experiencing financial barriers to participating in sport and recreation.
  • Greater diversity in leadership and facilitation roles.
  • Ensure sport and recreation staff, facilitators and players are respectful and welcoming to all people.
  • Provide equitable access to sport and recreation facilities.
  • Provide easily accessible information on community sport and recreation participation opportunities.
  • Promote the opportunities and advantages of participating in community sport and recreation.


Next steps

We are now seeking feedback on the draft policy and draft action plan.

Please complete the survey to provide us with your feedback.

Engagement summary report

Fair Access