Golf Victoria and Golf Australia welcome today’s release of Equal Opportunity in Golf, a practical guide to preventing unlawful discrimination and harassment in Australia’s golf clubs.
The guide, which was developed with the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission, reminds clubs they have a positive duty not to discriminate against women and minority groups.
Equal opportunity in golf is a key part of the sport’s efforts to address the under-representation of women in golf. Women make up 21% of all golf club members nationally and 23% in Victoria, which is significantly out of step with other sports and with contemporary Australian society.
The guide, which also comes in a handy ‘quick guide’ version, can help clubs understand their obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. It details their ‘positive duty’ to provide an environment free from discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation, and to take ‘reasonable measures’ to eliminate these practices in their clubs and in membership policies.
Golf Victoria CEO Simon Brookhouse says the guide will help clubs to encourage people from all walks of life to participate in golf.
“Victorian golf clubs are known for their friendly environments and are often seen as the backbone of communities, especially in regional Victoria,” says Brookhouse.
“Although golfers like to think that their sport is fair and open to all, there have been examples of individuals or groups that have been excluded or prevented from participating equally.”
Brookhouse says discrimination can have adverse effects on health, confidence and performance and may result in people leaving the sport.
“Clubs that allow such behaviour risk losing members and volunteers, often resulting in a reduced income,” he says. “They also face the prospect of legal liability and financial costs.”
“I encourage clubs to work with Golf Victoria to help grow the game and to ensure it continues to be welcoming and inclusive to all members of our diverse community.”
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton congratulated Golf Victoria and Golf Australia for their work on the guide.
“Golf clubs provide a great place for the community to meet and socialise,” Ms Hilton said. “They also have a legal obligation under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to provide equal opportunity for people to participate, regardless of their gender.
“Clubs play a key role in setting standards of behaviour. They must act as role models by ensuring that that club memberships are provided without discrimination,” she said.
Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt thanked the Commission and Golf Victoria for their work in producing such an important publication.
“We encourage all clubs to carefully review the guide and consider if their current practices are compliant,” Pitt said.
“The feedback we have had already from clubs is that it will add significantly to the golf industry’s understanding of its legal obligations regarding equal opportunity.”
Chief Executive of the R&A Martin Slumbers commended Golf Victoria and Golf Australia for taking the initiative to provide such useful guidance on discrimination and equal opportunities legislation to their member clubs.
“Golf – like all sports – has a duty to ensure that those joining clubs are treated equally and do not suffer discrimination on grounds including gender, race, religion or nationality,” he said.
“It is important for clubs to understand their responsibilities under equal opportunities legislation and ensure their policies and procedures are fully compliant.”