A coalition of netball’s peak organisations has pledged to take significant action to break down the barriers that have prevented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, coaches, umpires and administrators from flourishing in the sport.
In a historic move, 20 national, state and territory-based and club bodies have signed a Declaration of Commitment which requires the entire netball system to understand and then resolve the issue of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander under-representation at elite levels.
Sparked by the recent debate around Suncorp Super Netball’s Indigenous Round, but also building from the stories and experiences of former players and officials, the Declaration is netball’s first unified response to this critical issue.
The agreement is the result of intensive discussion in which key decision-makers turned the microscope on the system and also themselves. This delivered a series of reflections and insights including:
- We acknowledge that netball hasn’t fully addressed the barriers that confront Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our system, and we apologise for this.
- We know it is unacceptable to have only one Aboriginal player within the Suncorp Super Netball league, but our challenge as a sport goes far beyond what happened to one player in a single game.
- We understand that strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation rates and talent within our grassroots and state and territory competitions are not translating into our elite pathway.
In June, Netball Australia made a public commitment to listen, learn and change by engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and hearing about their experiences within netball. This work continues.
In July, the independent State of the Game review, chaired by Liz Ellis AO, launched a root-and-branch assessment of Australian netball. This includes research into the structural and behavioural barriers that limit opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to reach their full potential in our sport.
Today, Netball Australia, Suncorp Super Netball, Member Organisations, SSN Clubs, the Australian Netball Players Association and the Confident Girls Foundation have committed to the change required in our pathways from grassroots to the Origin Diamonds – a change that will only be achieved in true partnership with netball’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM and Sharon Finnan-White OAM, along with Stacey Campton, and Ali Tucker-Munro have agreed to play a key leadership role in supporting netball to develop the strategic framework to deliver the promised change.
Netball’s Declaration of Commitment has many elements, but the early phases will focus on understanding further the experiences of players, coaches, umpires and administrators in our system, identifying the barriers to greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and creating sustainable change plans.
Tracking and reporting of our successes and challenges on this journey will be a foundation of the strategy.
There are several key milestones and steps in the coming months including:
- State of the Game Review findings – October 2020
- Progressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pathways Forum – December 2020
- National Strategy Framework and Targets launched – April 2021