Recent high-profile instances of racism in sport have highlighted this issue, and sporting clubs at all levels are increasingly coming to understand the impact of racism on individual players and the culture within the club.
The new guides Racism is against the rules and the video Taking a stand against racism in sport are designed to help players, coaches, managers, administrators and supporters to better understand the harm caused by racism, their rights and obligations under Victorian law, and what they can do to stop racism from occurring.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, it's against the law to treat someone unfavourably in sport because of a personal characteristic, like a person's race or ethnic background.
"Sport and recreation activities can be a powerful tool for creating a sense of belonging. Victoria's anti-discrimination laws seek to ensure Victorians from all backgrounds can participate without being excluded or treated unfairly," said Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton.
"Sport for me – it's life. It gives me confidence, a belonging, a place," says Richmond Tigers player Natarsha Bamblett in the new video.
"Racism can affect people's ability to play sport. It can come from small remarks about our race or saying that we aren't equal. I think that's one of the worst things that racism can do – to make people question their ability, their reason for being there."
The guides include real-life case studies of discrimination in sport and recreation, as well as practical advice on how clubs can reduce racial discrimination and vilification – for example, by developing appropriate policies, sending proactive messages to players and coaches, and ensuring a fair, effective and confidential complaints process is available.
"Participating in sport and recreation is such a positive part of life – everyone should have the opportunity to get involved, keep fit and have fun playing sport," says Vicsport CEO Lisa Hasker.
"Whether you're a player, coach, parent, spectator or an official, everyone has a role in preventing and responding to racism in sport."
In the video, sports personalities and community leaders describe their experiences of racism in sport. Chris Johnson, AFL Victoria's Diversity Talent Manager, emphasises the importance of players speaking up if they've experienced racism at their club: "It's about talking to someone else about it, because if you hold that in your system for too long, it's going to have some effect on you. If you can actually speak about it, that's the main thing."
If players do experience discrimination or vilification through their sports and recreation activities, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission's complaints service offers free, fair and timely dispute resolution.
People can also call up for information on how to respond to racism in sport or to make an anonymous report. The complaints service can be contacted on 1300 292 153 or with an online complaints form.
"The Racism is against the rules guides and Taking a stand against racism in sport video are valuable resources for all kinds of sporting and recreation organisations across Victoria," says Commissioner Hilton.
"We're proud to partner with Vicsport and Sport and Recreation Victoria to help educate players, coaches and supporters about their rights and build a fairer, more inclusive sports culture within this state."
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