I was back in Canberra again on Friday for another Committee hearing, this time for our Inquiry into women’s sport and recreation. I hadn’t been back into Parliament House since June. The full Senate resuming sittings on Tuesday, so it was a chance to re-acclimatise.
I mentioned this inquiry in a post a few months ago about the pay dispute in the national netball league. It’s a relatively short one, with the report due next month. There were three days of hearings this week. Friday was only the one I could attend, as I was doing other things, but the Committee coped fine without me. There were some good quality witnesses.
The lack of media coverage of women’s sport and the related difficulty of even some of the top sportswomen to earn a living was raised in a number of submissions. This gained a fair bit of attention, which is understandable, at is can seem incongruous when world-beaters are still basically living hand to mouth.
There’s no doubt that this is a reality, but what could or should be done about it is another question. Liz Ellis, gained some media coverage. (She appeared on one of the days when I wasn’t present.) It was also good to see one of my fellow Committee members gave a swipe to the ABC for their disgraceful treatment of former netball captain and TV commentator, Anne Sargeant, who basically got the sack for being too ‘old’ and was replaced a younger woman. As often happens in this circumstances, the age of the bloke didn’t seem to be a problem.
In terms of the wider social interest, I think a bigger issue than pay opportunities for elite sportswomen is seeing what barriers there are that prevent greater involvement of women and girls in general recreation. It is well established that this improves physical and mental health, as well as having social benefits, so it is in everyone’s interest to find reasonable ways to encourage greater involvement in physical recreation activities.