Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
Women in Sport
That this House:
(1) acknowledges the success of women's sport in Australia, particularly the:
(a) Australian women's cricket team which retained the Ashes in 2023 after winning the World Cup in 2022, and the T20 World Cup in Melbourne in 2022;
(b) Diamonds which recently won the Netball World Cup for the twelfth time, beating England 61-45; and
(c) Matildas' success in the FIFA Women's World Cup;
(a) that many codes are moving to pay parity and are providing women opportunities previously only seen in men's sport; and
(b) the prestige of women's sport with increasing numbers of people watching sport at the ground, at 'live sites', or on television;
(3) encourages greater free-to-air availability for sports; and
(4) further notes the importance of supporting women's and men's sport to encourage health and fitness—'you can't be what you can't see'.
I'm a sports tragic. Over the years, I've been involved in and played cricket and hockey. I've refereed rugby league and volunteered for many sporting teams. I choose to watch sports—a lot—but it's only recently that women's sport has started to receive the recognition it deserves.
Over the last 10 years, the sporting landscape, not just in Australia but the world, has completely changed. Women's sport has not only emerged but, I would argue, now dominates in some ways. Women's skill, knowledge and execution are on par with men's.
Perhaps we can trace this emergence to Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, who, along with Susie O'Neill in the pool and so many others, caught our imagination. Cathy Freeman's win was magnificent. She ran with the hopes of the nation on her back and won. Regardless of how we got here, the point is: women's sport has arrived.
The year was 2020, the venue was the MCG—I was lucky enough to get tickets to pay my first visit to arguably Australia's most famous sporting arena, the MCG—and I was joined by 86,000 other fans. The occasion was the final of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup. The Bills, Dougs and Gregs of my childhood had been replaced by Alyssa, Beth and Meg, and, over the ensuing few hours, Australia won, defeating India by an amazing 85 runs.
The record books speak for themselves. The Australian women's cricket team have been the ICC Women's T20 World Cup champions in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2020 and 2023, and in 1978, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2005, 2013 and 2022, they were the Women's Cricket World Cup champions.
But it isn't just cricket that women excel in. In netball, the Diamonds have dominated for decades. Last month, they brought home the Netball World Cup crown for the 12th time. To top it off, they won with a record score of 61-45, the largest world cup victory in 28 years. Then, of course, we have the Matildas. It wasn't a race that stopped a nation this time; it was a tournament and a game, and we won't forget Sam Kerr's goal. If you need no other sign that the time for women's sport has arrived, then you need to look no further than the support our nation provided to the Matildas during this year's FIFA Women's World Cup.
For all our strides, there's still a way to go. Women's sport needs greater availability on free-to-air TV, and women's sport needs to have a greater parity with men with regard to pay. But I do commend the work that Australian cricket has made in this regard, particularly the men cricketers in supporting the women to get pay parity. I can't help but think that the generations of women who began this women's sporting movement would be proud—proud and chuffed. Their efforts, after so many years, are coming to fruition. I can't wait for my next MCG or SCG experience. Soccer, league, cricket, netball or whatever, I know that Australia's female sporting champions will do their code and country proud, and the Albanese Labor government will support them every step of the way.
The recent success of women's sport must be accompanied by investment to ensure that the momentum and enthusiasm continues. Those it inspires must be supported. Recently, the government announced a $200 million Play Our Way program that will be used to improve sporting facilities and provide more equipment for women and girls. This funding will go towards local, grassroots sporting clubs, who are the backbone of not just women's sport but sport for all genders and all ages. But it's more than that. Investing in our local sporting club brings our communities together and promotes healthier lifestyles, builds relationships and teaches valuable skills that can be applied throughout life.
I'd also like to commend Catherine Cannuli, a former Matilda herself, who's working with Southern Districts Soccer at Cirillo oval at Middleton Grange in my electorate, providing support for women's and girls' soccer. She successfully ran a tournament for primary school children last week. Unfortunately, because I was here, I wasn't able to be there, but, looking at all the photos on Facebook and talking to Catherine, I know it was a wonderful day.
Congratulations to all those women in Werriwa who support our sporting champions all through their lives.