The Adelaide Statement – Advocate for Equity

  • February 28, 2024
Adelaide Statement Pledge – Advocate for Equity
By PLA Advisory members:
Cathy Kiss AM, Community Recreation and Aquatics Planning Manager City of Melbourne; and
Wendy Holland, Director Communityvibe

The Adelaide pledge describes how we will “Advocate for Equity” by striving to create parks and leisure experiences that are accessible and welcoming to all, regardless of socio-economic status, race, gender, age, place of residence or ability.

In 2017 PLA Advisory started a journey to advocate for gender equity with a focus on our organisation. It was felt that in order to advocate for equity in our work in provision of places and programs, we need to ensure that we demonstrate our commitment to gender equity in our organisation. That our boards have equal representation, that we strive for equal membership, actively promote equal participation at conferences as examples. But it is when we explore how this is achieved that we need to identify what could be done differently and what needs to change. How do we recognise what needs to be done differently? How do we influence change?

• Advocating for equity means we need to look at what we do now and why that might not lead to outcomes that are fair for all.
• We need to ask questions and be prepared to listen, even if it is uncomfortable.
• And we need to not just assume that we don’t have a role to play, or assume we know what others are experiencing.
• The phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know” is almost perfect here. Which means we need to actively seek information and training about experiences other people have that are different to our own experiences.

So why is this relevant to the broader Adelaide pledge? Well the same principles apply. If you don’t understand what excludes people, how can you create welcoming and accessible places for all? Therefore, we need to genuinely consult not only with existing users of our parks and leisure facilities, services and programs to identify their needs and barriers to access and participation, but importantly, with those who do not currently use our facilities, services and programs.

A State Government initiative to redress equity issues in AFL football in Victoria involves funding to develop female friendly change rooms and policies to enable female teams equal access to playing fields at suitable times. These are great initiatives. However, even before this step we need to understand what factors are preventing more girls from joining a team in the first place. Is it body image issues, perceptions of safety from lack of lighting in the car parking area, derogatory comments from members of the community which impact confidence and self-esteem, or other factors? Similarly, what is preventing members of the multicultural community from accessing parks and leisure opportunities? Or our First Nations people? Or older adults? Or people with disabilities? Or people from low socio-economic backgrounds?

There are a vast array of factors limiting access to parks and leisure experiences, and unless we actively seek out the views of all members of the community and plan deliberate interventions in the way of increased support or specific practices to boost representation (as illustrated in the diagram below), the significant benefits of parks and leisure may only be realised by a few.

Source: Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire: interactioninstitute.org and madewithangus.com.