House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Private Members' Business

Women in Sport

7:12 pm

Photo of Aaron VioliAaron Violi (Casey, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I want to commend the member for Werriwa for this very important motion. Like her, I'm a sports tragic. It's an important topic we need to talk on. I grew up playing a lot of sport, but I'm now the father of a seven-year-old daughter, which does change your perspective. It shouldn't always be that way, but that's the reality of the world. She's at home today, nursing a broken heart. She had her futsal grand final today, and, after going through the season undefeated, they lost in a penalty shootout, and there were tears on the way home. Part of me is a little bit—'happy' isn't the right word, but I know she will learn valuable life lessons out of that loss today. I was fortunate to receive those lessons growing up and were very much foundational in the person who I am today, and I spoke about that in my first speech. Sport has a unique ability to bring people together and to teach life skills in a safe environment, and I have that opportunity growing up. My daughter now has that opportunity. She doesn't know a world without elite women's sport, and I think that's a wonderful thing.

We cheered on the Matildas like everyone, and her passion, when that final goal went through—I thought I was looking at myself watching a Collingwood grand final back in the day. She was fully invested in that result. This is what it's about. It's about creating equal opportunities, and it's a journey that we're on as a society. There is the Matildas and the success of the world cup and Sam Kerr. The Diamonds have dominated netball for generations. The Cricket World Cup, whether it is the T20 or retaining the Ashes over in England, these are becoming such important moments for our community. I remember watching the first Women's World Cup game, here in Canberra. On one TV there was the final day of the men's Ashes. The Women's World Cup was on at the same time on another TV. I'm a cricket tragic, but the reality was there were about three or four of us watching both screens, and 99 per cent of the crowd were watching the soccer and riding every kick and bump along the way, which was great to see.

But there are challenges we have at the community level. Over 20 or 30 years of playing sport, the facilities aren't what they need to be. In my community and many communities across the country, the reality is many were built when there were predominantly men playing. Even now they are not up to scratch. For example, on Saturday morning I visited the Mooroolbark Soccer Club with the shadow minister for sport, Anne Ruston. There are two changerooms from the 1960s. They have over 25 teams—men's and women's teams—and trying to share that same facility is not conducive to keeping young girls and boys or men and women in community sport. There is, absolutely, more that we need to do in this regard. It is heartening that the government have committed $200 million. It would have been nice if they had matched the $250 million commitment that the coalition made, but we'll start with 200 million and continue to put the pressure on.

What we also need to continue to look at as we go on this journey is how we can start at the grassroots but allow professional women to earn more. It is a journey, and the commercials of the AFL and the Premier League clearly are more significant towards the men's game. That is a historical thing, and we cannot change that overnight. But we do need to continue to provide support—as the commercials stack up—to make sure it is reliable.

Completely unconnected to this motion, my daughter got a Sam Kerr book yesterday, and she was drawing and colouring in a picture of Sam Kerr in one of our rooms. She didn't know I was speaking on this today, but she said to me: 'Dad, I want to be a Matilda when I grow up. Can you make sure I get paid the same as the men?' It hits you. Our job here is not to be parents, but our job is to take note of our experience, and my daughter represents a whole generation. That's what we need to understand: she is seven years old, and whether she makes it or not there will be young seven-year-olds today who will be Matildas in 20 or 30 years time. It is our responsibility to take our lived experience, our family's experience, and extrapolate it across the community.

I will always support all sport—community sports, women's sports. It is a journey we need to make to make sure that it's sustainable and commercially viable. We need to continue to do more.


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