Push For More Female Board Members Wins Support

Akuna Photography

Major Bendigo sporting associations and bodies say they would welcome an increase in women at board level.

The push for more women on sporting boards comes as the state government considers a proposal to cut funding to organisations and peak bodies unless 40 per cent of positions are filled by females.

The move is one of a raft of recommendations made by an advisory committee on females in sport, which the state government intends to adopt in full.

Bendigo Spirit chairman Greg Bickley said the organisation would welcome any initiative aimed at increasing the number of women at board level.

The Spirit already satisfies the government’s intended quota, with four women serving on a 10-member board.

“The more women involved at sporting clubs and organisations the better,” Bickley said.

“It’s a great thing to have more women involved in sports administration.

“Volunteering on a sporting association or club is something we need more people to do regardless of whether they are men or women.”

As part of the push for change, the government says it will commit $1 million to help remove cultural and structural barriers to women and girls getting involved in sport.

Sports Minister John Eren said it would be “inherently stupid” for sporting organisations to refuse to utilise the talents of women at board level.

He said when decision makers looked for capable women, they were easy to find.

The Bendigo Football Netball League has already shown itself to be a leader on gender parity, with its top two positions filled by women, including that of league manager Carol Cathcart

Two of the BFNL’s eight board members are women, including league president Carol McKinstry and Melissa Ryan.

Cathcart said while she was not part of the board, she did also attend its meetings.

“Carol (McKinstry) probably came to the board more with an interest in football,” she said.

“I think it’s more about the skills people can bring.

“Our recent two appointments on to the board were a lawyer and Andy Walker, who obviously got extensive knowledge from a council perspective and has played in the league.

“For me personally it’s about skills people can bring to the role.

“Yes it’s important to get perspective from different people, wherever they are indigenous or female, it’s important to have a community focus.”

It is expected the measure would be introduced in three years’ time to allow for existing board appointments to run their course.

Article: Kieran Iles, Bendigo Advertiser
Photo: Steve Blake, Akuna Photography

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