By Alesha Capone
Councils in Melbourne’s west have joined together to come up with a five-year plan to increase the number of girls and women involved in sport and active recreation.
The plan, which was released in draft form last week, has been developed by Wyndham, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Melton, Moonee Valley and Melbourne councils in collaboration with Women’s Health West and the state government.
After being endorsed by Wyndham council last Tuesday, the draft plan will be released for public consultation.
Thirteen focus groups involving 66 women participated in a study to develop the draft plan, including women from multicultural backgrounds, women with a disability, new mothers, workers, women aged over 65 and LGBTQI women.
Findings included that it was difficult for women with children to become involved with sport and fitness activities.
Women also reported they were concerned about their safety on public transport, especially when waiting at more remote train stations and bus stops, in order to access sport or recreation.
As well, women said they were worried about safety when looking to exercise outdoors in the early morning and evening.
The draft plan said its strategic priorities would include providing safe and accessible spaces and transport routes to maximize opportunities for women and girls to participate in physical activity.
Supporting a mix of free or low-cost programs and activities which are inclusive of women and girls of all ages, cultures and abilities was also on the list of priorities.
The draft plan said a breakdown of the 12 major sports played in Melbourne’s west showed that, in general, “there are significantly more male than females registered sports participants” in the region.
According to the draft, 9.9 per cent (4408 women and girls) of females aged between four and 99 years old (4408 women) in Hobsons Bay are involved in sport.
Just 6.4 per cent of females living in Wyndham (6751 women and girls) are involved in sport, 6.2 per cent (2504 women and girls) in Maribyrnong, 5.7 per cent in Melton (3803 women and girls) and 4.2 per cent in Brimbank (3916 women and girls).
Across Victoria, the average participation rate for women and girls in sport is 10.7 per cent.