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Carol Fox appointed new President of Australian Womensport and Recreation Association
Carol Fox, Victoria's first ever female professional surf lifesaver, has been elected as President of the Australian Womensport and Recreation Association (AWRA), the national umbrella body advocating for women's participation in sport and physical activity.
A former national level swimmer and water polo player, Fox has been advocating for equal rights for women since discovering as a child that half the population was excluded from surf lifesaving.
She recalls "my brother went down to the lifesaving club and I remember turning to my Dad and saying 'I can't wait until I'm old enough to be a lifesaver' and my Dad looked at me and said 'Oh darling, girls are not allowed to be surf lifesavers'.
"I always remember back to that moment, the shock that we were excluded just because we were female. Even now I think about the concept and it still flabbergasts me. This wasn't a sport either, this was a volunteer organisation providing a community service - and they were excluding women.
“I have to say though that women were integrated into the surf lifesaving movement very quickly once the doors were opened.”
While Fox credits female pioneers and male champions of change for helping her break through that barrier, she laments that in many regards, the standing of women in sport and recreation hasn't progressed that much, nominating the lack of media coverage a major point of concern.
However, she is excited to take over the AWRA board, which has attracted a pool of high calibre volunteers with expertise in legal, finance, governance and communications fields, all of whom are passionate about seeing women progress in the sport and recreation field.
“A lot of people don't know AWRA exists, and I think there's a lot of people out there who would like to know; there's so much potential here.”
“People are doing some brilliant work out there, AWRA's role is to get it all together and make sure that none of us are reinventing the wheel.”
“We're currently seeing our top women's sporting teams – the Matildas, the Opals, the Southern Stars, the Diamonds - grapple with the same issues around fair payment, maternity leave, childcare policies, and negotiating and keeping TV deals.”
“Be it those elite-level issues or programs to promote girls' participation in sport and reduce drop-out rates at a grassroots level, sporting bodies can be learning from each other as well as the corporate space when it comes to helping reach and retain the female half of the population.”
“This is about us being a body that can direct people to programs that they need, or make people aware of fabulous programs out there.”
AWRA runs a mentoring initiative for women in sport leadership positions, and the non profit organisation has one paid part-time employee, Executive Director Leanne Evans.
Background on Carol Fox
Carol Fox took her passion for equality and went on to study a Bachelor of Applied Science (Physical Education) and lectured in Human Movement and Sports Administration at Victoria University.
She later completed a Masters thesis on ‘Women’s perceived barriers to elite coaching positions in Australian Sport’, which was used extensively by the Australian Sports Commission in determining policies for women in sport.
Fox brings over three decades of experience in the areas of health, leadership, business, sport, and communication.
A former executive director of Victoria Water Polo, Fox has lead her business Life Performance Pty Ltd for 20 years and recently opened a new division called Carol Fox & Co, specialising in confident communication for leaders.
She has extensive experience in team and leadership training in the government, corporate and sporting sectors, including past clients such as Australian and British Swimming teams and the South Australian cricket team.
Her appointment as President is for a two-year term.
29th August 2015 - MORE WOMEN ON SPORTS BOARDS WOULD REDUCE DOPING AND MATCH-FIXING
12th April 2015 - ABC HIGHLIGHTS DECLINE IN MEDIA COVERAGE OF WOMEN’S SPORT
28th October 2014 - WOMEN ARE ‘SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS’ IN SPORT GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT
21st August 2013 - AWRA CALL FOR GOVERNMENT BACKING TO PROMOTE MORE FEMALE LEADERS IN SPORT
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