Vicsport’s Wear It Purple Day Event
Vicsport has strengthened the Victorian sport industry’s knowledge and confidence in empowering LGBTIQ+ children and young people by linking ideas to the Victorian Child Safe Standards in an event that also celebrated Wear It Purple Day.
Started in Australia, Wear It Purple Day is an annual awareness day that aims to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for LGBTIQ+ young people.
Vicsport promoted these ideals through Victorian Child Safe Standards 3-5 which look at empowering children about their rights, engaging families and communities as well as upholding equity and ensuring the diverse needs of children and young people are reflected in policy and practice.
“Through two of the networks that I facilitate, Vicsport’s Child Safe Community of Practice and the Rainbow Sports Alliance, I realised there were knowledge gaps in the areas of LGBTIQ+ inclusion and the Victorian Child Safe Standards throughout the sporting industry,” said Vicsport Participation and Inclusion Manager, Michaela Cook.
“I could see some organisations and individuals did not understand the legal obligations to engage, empower and ensure policies and practices reflected LGBTIQ+ children and young people, some had not discovered how LGBTIQ+ inclusion intersects with child safety while others lacked confidence and understanding across the two areas.
“Wear It Purple Day provided the perfect opportunity to bring the industry together to learn about both subjects while celebrating LGBTIQ+ young people.”
Delivered in partnership with Proud 2 Play and supported by VicHealth, Vicsport’s Wear It Purple Day event featured presenters Emily Sanders (Director Regulation at the Commission for Children and Young People), Rebecca Herft (Sponsorship and Partnerships Coordinator at Minus18), 16-year old trans athlete Ace McWilliams and their Mum Tiarna as well as AIS Thrive with Pride ambassador Kalinda Robinson.
Emily began the day by setting the scene, outlining the legal obligations to empowering and engaging LGBTIQ+ youth.
“It is important to consider the Victorian Child Safe Standards when engaging with LGBTIQ+ youth because they are legislation,” said Michaela. “It was great to have Emily join us and explain that side of things in more detail as the Standards are also a useful tool to support organisations with establishing safe, affirming and respectful policies and practices for LGBTIQ+ young people and their families.
“Creating meaningful relationships with children and young people through these processes will also assist them in feeling safe to speak up if they have any issues, especially related to child safety.”
Ace, Tiarna, Kalinda and Rebecca then held a raw and honest Q&A discussion on their real-life experiences with LGBTIQ+ inclusion in sport.
“Including those who have lived experience is so important because their personal insights demonstrate why this work is important,” said Michaela. “It also shows why we need to ensure different needs and perspectives are considered when delivering, designing and running opportunities for all.
“These honest discussions bring light to issues that those from marginalised communities face on a regular basis within sport. In turn, this can assist administrators to improve practices and implement innovative ways to ensure all Victorians have equitable, safe and respectful opportunities to participate in sport, exactly as they are.”
The event was capped off with a workshop facilitated by Michaela which put attendees’ learnings into action. Activities included “slam dunking the past” where pieces of paper containing written promises related to LGBTIQ+ practices that will never happen again were thrown in the bin while a “commitment wall” gave attendees a chance to stick up post-it notes with promises for the future.
“When I am on a learning journey, I find it beneficial to stop and reflect, thinking about behaviours I want to leave in the past and ways I can improve,” said Michaela.
“The wall of commitments was an activity we ran during our corresponding event in 2022 but we discovered that many were unable to follow through. This year, we asked attendees to include their names and email addresses to not only keep them accountable but allow Vicsport to support them on their LGBTIQ+ inclusion journey.”
Vicsport is committed to providing a safe, fun and inclusive environment for all people, including those of diverse sexualities, genders and sex characteristics. For more information on how Vicsport can assist you on your LGBTIQ+ journey, visit our inclusion webpage or contact Michaela Cook (she/her) at email@example.com.