Collaboration the key as Change Makers step up

The ‘Preventing Violence Through Sport (PVTS) project – Change Makers’ which is supported by the Victorian Government, is being rolled out across the state with thanks to Football Victoria (FV), Victoria University (VU) and Regional Sport Victoria (RSV).

Yesterday we brought you the story of Annie North and the Port Fairy Football Club (PFFC) as part of the program, with Annie pointing out that:

“In the big picture, we’re all in a space of addressing what is happening in the wider societal context, and that is slowly changing.”

It is a small statement that forms a part of the PFFC journey of change. But it speaks volumes as to the context in which the PVTS project is aiming to help clubs create safe environments that support gender equity, and deliver initiatives to prevent gender-based violence.


And with a collaborative approach, FV, VU and RSV has already begun to see positive change taking place through the 60-plus clubs that have taken part in the program.

Speaking about the collaboration, Football Victoria Executive Manager of Equity, Growth and Development  – Karen Pearce OAM, explained that the power of the three organisations combined has paved the way to see positive outcomes already being formed.

“We understand this is not a one organisation, one department or one person approach. It takes a range of expertise across a lot of areas to ensure we make sustainable equitable change throughout football,” Pearce said.

“Spreading the load also enables greater uptake and support and the three-way partnership and the club engagement with this project and the effectiveness of the work achieved to date, really highlights the strength of our relationships and our willingness to continue to support and drive the program as a collective and bring real change to the game.”

Fiona McLachlan – Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University agrees.

“The three-way partnership is working really well and our ability to deliver an effective program lies in the strength of this partnership,” McLachlan said.

“The program design is underpinned by collaborative and collective approaches to solving problems of inequities and exclusion in sport.”

“We have utilised the three partner organisations to great effect in the workshops as there is a real sense of organisational buy-in and support when club leaders can directly ask for support from either FV or their Regional Sport Assembly, and clubs feel empowered when FV and RSV/RSA’s ask questions of them.”

“As the first and only Victoria-wide community of practice between researchers, students, volunteers and sport organisations, Change Makers offers a powerful model for elevating community engagement through genuine research-practice partnerships.”

So how is the program actually tracking?

According to Pearce, it is a wonderful feeling when you can see tangible changes taking place and in that regard the program is tracking along very well. But cautiously she also explained that the type of change seeking to be implemented around gender equity is not something that taking a short-term approach to will magically fix.

“Our progress is tracking well against the project deliverables,” she explained.

“The data is already being analysed by VU through the reports on club progress, climate assessment spreadsheets, action plans and the recorded presentations.”

“This is not a two year project – it will live beyond due to the capacity building capabilities through FV, VU, RSV, and our football clubs that will continue to drive and create sustainable approaches to equity.”

“It requires leadership, consistency and an on-going commitment – complacency will be to the detriment of our sport, so we cannot risk this as an end to a wonderful program.”

McLachlan believes the program will provide plenty of positive evidenced based outcomes to share with the sporting community, but also flagged that major resulting changes may not be seen until further into the future.

“The program is tracking really well – we have had the privilege to work with clubs spread right across metro Melbourne and regional Victoria and all clubs are at completely different stages of their gender equity journey and it’s exciting to support them.”

“Through the program we are learning a lot about the processes of change and resistance and so we are also undertaking analysis of our findings so that we can share our findings sector-wide.”

“Sometimes we might not see the results of the hard work until years down the track so it is important to keep going, refining where necessary but not to feel disheartened if outcomes aren’t instant.”

Speaking about RSV’s involvement in the program, Executive Officer Meghan Mayman said that working together with the RSA’s, FV, VU and club volunteers showed that there is a willingness to lead and create change.

“There is so much work to be done in this space, and we understand that it is going to take a very long time to implement what is effectively institutional change required throughout club land,” she said.

“But what the program has shown us is that there is a real willingness from many sections of the industry to learn, work together and to commit and invest time and effort, into making gender equity the priority it needs to be.”

“We are proud of the collaboration and the work that our Regional Sport Assemblies are doing to assist clubs in this space, and we will continue to support them and their clubs as they continue on this journey of change.”

It is hard to showcase the importance of the work being undertaken without clubs putting their hands up to be Change Makers themselves, and Pearce openly invited all clubs within FV to become part of the program and to make a difference.

“The Change Makers program plays a crucial role in connectivity, unification, advancing gender equality, and reducing the gendered drivers of violence,” she added.

“We know the inequity challenges are real and the road at times can be daunting. However to ensure our football communities can participate in a safe, inclusive and respectful manner we need to reduce the barriers and resistance.”

“The more Change Makers clubs we have who can influence this change and work collaboratively and stronger together will leave a transformative legacy to our game.”

To find out more information about the project, click HERE.