15 Jan, 2012 Last updated: 12 Mar, 2015

By Lyn Walker, Executive Manager, VicHealth

Letter to the editor published in the Sunday Age 15 January 2012.

Getting to know your neighbours is about more than having someone to collect your newspapers and feed the cat or dog while you’re away.

Kimberley Crow is spot on about the need for strong leadership to stamp out apathy towards women’s sports (Sunday Age, 8/1, Sport's gender divide: officials must start a gut-busting run), but we also need to treat the root of the problem.

Not only are women vastly under-represented at the elite level, but also at the state and local levels too. Sport’s often blokey culture, lack-lustre facilities, family commitments, poor body image and simply not having enough time in the day are just some of the reasons why women aren’t lining up to kick a ball or swing a bat on a Saturday morning.

It’s clear that sports clubs can lead by example by becoming more welcoming places for women and we’re making headway with the Everyone Wins! program which supports state sporting associations and local clubs to overcome the barriers women face.

It’s not just about getting more women on the park or court, but also getting them into positions where they can influence real change on boards and as coaches and officiators.

Over time, through these initiatives, sports will identify new leaders and role models, create policies, plan for more inclusive facilities and ultimately establish strong partnership to create sports that are safe, accessible, and equitable for women’s participation.

By working from the bottom up and the top down, we can create equality in sports and inspire a future generation of athletes.

- Lyn Walker