Levelling the playing field

Girls On The Move participants get a taste for sport.


A program tackling Greater Dandenong’s low rates of females playing sport has been nominated for a state award.

Girls On the Move is a finalist in the 2021 Fiona Richardson Gender Equality Award organised by Neighbourhood Houses Victoria.

Despite Covid lockdowns, the program run by Dandenong-based Wellsprings for Women has introduced 53 young females into sport over the past two years.

“We have connected these girls with a number of professional clubs and they continue their newly developed love for sport,” Wellsprings chief executive Dalal Smiley said.

Multicultural participants were often excluded from sport in several ways.

These included not knowing what was available and how to join as well as the prohibitive costs and cultural and religious factors.

The program tackles Greater Dandenong’s state-low female sports participation rate – 3.2 per cent compared to the 13.2 per cent Victorian average, Ms Smiley said.

The rate for women from non-English speaking backgrounds is even lower.

Girls On The Move has kicked off in several schools such as Noble Park English Language School and Hampton Park Secondary College.

It has forged partnerships with Reclink Australia, Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), The Big Issue, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Casey, Cricket Victoria, Football Victoria and Monash Cricket Club.

“We look forward to facilitating more pathways for young women and contributing to making more places across our society, culturally inclusive and responsive,” Ms Smiley said.

The program was established in 2019 with funding from Newsboys Foundation.

It will continue with funds from VicHealth in 2021-’22.