Date: August 22, 2016
Author: Christian Hamilton

Clubs are in the driver�s seat – Inclusion

Australia’s population is truly diverse. We hail from all corners of the globe and speak more than 260 languages. Half of us were either born overseas or have parents who were born outside Australia. Sport is part of our national identity and well reflected at a local level in our communities.  Not only do we love to support our favourite team, 62% of us participate in sport on a regular basis.

This is often reflected in our golf clubs and facilities; we are a multicultural and socio-culturally diverse community that all share a common love of the game of golf. However, does your facility rely on the game to provide inclusive outcomes, or is the club in the driver’s seat?

At a time when member retention and participation remains top of most club agendas, we take a look at how clubs can create a more inclusive environment that supports ongoing participation.


How can we be more inclusive as a sport?

The 7 Pillars of Inclusion

The framework developed by Play by the Rules™ – Australian Sports Commission, has been developed to be used across club, state and national sporting organisations, creating guidance for more inclusive opportunities in sport and recreation.For more information, go to:

1.     AccessHow to get there and get in

How is your club reflected in the local community in regards to access? Does the built environment support access for people with a physical disability? Does club policy and training ensure staff are welcoming and supportive of new visitors to your club? Conduct a facility audit that looks at each touchpoint within the club, disabled parking, access to buildings and amenities, practice facilities and the golf course. Look for opportunities for improvement.

2.     AttitudeHow willing you are to make it happen?

Sporting clubs will be judged by what they do rather than what they intend to do. Clubs have the ability to get the inclusion discussion started, not only at board and management level but within the broader membership. How? Host an event for a minority group in your community, either for people with a disability or a cultural and linguistically diverse or indigenous group. This is a great way to start some discussion on how your club can better connect with its community.

3.     ChoiceWhat can you do?

Are the programs and services offered at your club accessible for people with a disability? Is there choice for the participant on how they participate at your club / facility? People will look for different experiences at a club. Having choice for participants provides flexibility.

4.     PartnershipsWho will you work with?

Which community groups can you connect with? Start by accessing local government support organisations and associations in your area. Local council websites are a great starting point. Funding for participation in sport and recreation is supported well by local government providing you can show that your club is inclusive and supportive of minority groups within the community.

5.     CommunicationWho will you tell?

Does your communication reflect your commitment to inclusion? How can you start to communicate with various community groups? Is there balanced communication out to members across all levels of membership, women, seniors, juniors etc.?  Clubs should promote inclusive practices wherever possible to demonstrate an inclusive environment at their club or facility across all mediums. Promote access to your club!

6.     PolicyHow are people responsible?

Does your club have policy supporting inclusion at your facility? Policy development around inclusion will also set an agenda for clubs to drive better outcomes and deliver better experiences for its members and visitors. Policies can cover accessibility to your club and the services within it, such as food and beverage offerings, observing religious holidays / celebrations which includes scheduling of events, dress requirements and expectations are just a few areas of inclusive policy at club level. 

7.     OpportunitiesWhat do you want to do?

What sort of environment are you hoping to create? A club where all members of the community feel welcome, comfortable and valued within its community. Sporting clubs that are inclusive attract others and when these settings are right, not only do we see better retention outcomes, but stronger participation from the wider community.

Some points to consider that come out of this framework;

  • Ensure your facility isn’t set in one cultural framework and celebrate diversity.
  • The built environment supports or restricts participation for people with disability; audit your facility and look for opportunities to improve access.
  • Get the inclusion discussion started within your facility by hosting an event for a minority group in your community.
  • Having the right policy settings and education tools for staff will drive inclusion.

We have the opportunity to grow participation by making people feel welcome, comfortable and valued at our facilities.

Christian Hamilton
National Inclusion Manager