Addressing family violence through sport

Wellington has one of the worst family violence incident rates in Victoria. Photo: File

THE state government is supporting local sporting clubs across Victoria to run programs promoting a culture that prevents violence against women and families.

Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Vicki Ward and Minister for Community Sport, Ros Spence recently announced $1.2 million through the Preventing Violence Through Sports Grants program for the continuation of 12 community-based sporting projects across the state.

The projects include GenWest partnering with the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation and Women’s Health Grampians to run a community awareness campaign that champions respectful relationships and prevention of violence against women.

Ward said sport was an important vehicle in leading a variety of community initiatives.

“Sport has the power to influence and shape positive community attitudes and behaviours which is why the Preventing Violence Through Sports Grants is critically important,” she said.

“We are continuing to support clubs in creating respectful and inclusive environments for all members and changing the culture of violence against women and families.”

Another program, led by La Trobe University, is working with regional community sport and recreation clubs to help prevent and intervene early to gender-based violence in the Barwon and Loddon Campaspe areas.

Launched in 2021, the program recognises the power of community sport in bringing people together, shaping culture and challenging the attitudes and behaviours that can lead to violence.

Funding will support sporting organisations to engage with all those who participate in community sport, from players and volunteers to coaches and family members – to help facilitate grassroots change.

Examples of action being taken by clubs includes codes of conduct to promote gender equality and equip staff, action plans to encourage early intervention, and policies that normalise players, coaches and families calling out disrespect, sexism and violence when they see it.

The program reached more than 5200 people in its first year – including almost 2000 people aged 12-15 – and has significantly strengthened the confidence, skills and sense of responsibility among sporting clubs which often sit at the centre of close-knit communities.

A full list of the organisations running these programs is available at