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Human Rights Commission and Golf Australia partner to release guidelines for gender equality in golf

Human Rights Commission and Golf Australia partner to release guidelines for gender equality in golf
March 5, 2019

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Golf Australia have today launched new guidelines for Australian golf clubs that aim to end sex discrimination in the game while also increasing female participation.

The Guidelines for the promotion of equal opportunity for women and girls in golf set out to ensure Australian golf clubs provide equal opportunities for both genders.

They also to halt the decrease in female participation in the game, which has been sliding over the past 50 years, with Golf Australia and the Commission having found that while clubs offer women and girls opportunities to play and compete, frequently men were given greater opportunities purely because of their gender.

Launched today at the Mt Derrimut Golf and Community Club in Melbourne’s western suburbs, the Guidelines also provide clear information about what discrimination is and practical tools to guide clubs on fair play.

Speaking at the launch, Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the Commission, stated “the Australian Human Rights Commission welcomes this opportunity to partner with Golf Australia on the development of these guidelines.

“They provide information on the operation of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and practical guidance on how golf clubs can promote equal opportunity for women and girls.

“With its use of a unique handicap system, golf is particularly well placed to be an inclusive game for people of all genders, ages and abilities. A real opportunity exists to increase the participation rates for women and girls within golf.

“The guidelines provide an opportunity for golf clubs around Australia to revisit their policies and practices to ensure compliance with the Act, and to address these issues. The guidelines are particularly timely given the current momentum in relation to the participation of women in sport.”

The Guidelines highlight that golf clubs can minimise the likelihood of a successful discrimination claim and promote equal opportunity by:

• Ensuring membership categories are gender neutral
• Providing open access to the course at all times for women/girls and men/boys
• Maximising the participation of women and girls in competitions
• Facilitating the inclusion of women and girls in governance arrangements.

Commenting on the Guidelines, Golf Australia Chief Executive Stephen Pitt advised “everyone who loves our sport should be excited about this latest step we are making with the Commission to deliver a friendly experience for all golfers, regardless of their sex.

“To this point there has been a clear gap in the guidance we have been able to make available to clubs on two significant issues that relate to equal opportunity for women and girls.

“Firstly, the consistency of various golf operational practices with the federal sex discrimination law, which has been in force since 1984; and, secondly, what it is that clubs can do to implement policies to promote equal opportunity for women and girls in golf.

“We believe this document will go a long way towards filling this space.”

Pitt strongly encouraged the 1,500 golf clubs around the country to work through this publication and follow the guidance of the Commission, adding “we believe it to be particularly important in assisting clubs to meet their legal obligations and, where there is any doubt as to whether a certain practice complies with the law, we would urge clubs to focus on maximising the inclusion of women and girls and where appropriate, seek legal advice.

“This approach will help to minimise the risk of a discrimination claim, against a club or an official, under the Act.”

Empowering Australian golf clubs to ensure they are gender inclusive is a hallmark of Golf Australia’s ‘Vision 2025: The Future of Women & Girls in Golf' strategy.

Jenkins concluded “this is an opportunity for clubs to revisit their policies and practices to make sure they are not only complying with the Sex Discrimination Act, but meeting reasonable community and legal expectations of equality and fairness.

“In some cases for example, women and girls are only able to access the course during limited time slots and can’t book their games as far in advance as men and boys. This raises questions about discrimination on the basis of sex.

“I am proud of the Guidelines that we are releasing today and commend Golf Australia for taking this welcome stance in delivering a fair game.”

The R&A, the governing body for golf in all areas of the world except the United States and Mexico.

Click here to view the guidelines for the promotion of equal opportunity for women and girls in golf.

Related Articles

8th February 2019 - Sport Australia’s Kate Palmer says now is the time to stop talking about ‘women’s sport’

1st December 2018 - Four-year strategy announced to drive powerful change for women and girls in sport

2nd June 2018 - Golf’s R&A launches Women’s charter

31st May 2018 - Adelaide course to host 2019 Australian Women’s Golf Open

23rd May 2018 - Swing Fit encourages women into golf

15th March 2018 - Golf Australia to receive R&A funding to attract women and girls into golf

13th February 2018 - Golf Australia releases strategy to increase female participation and change culture

21st December 2017 - Golf Australia looks for Women’s Open to boost female participation

20th October 2017 - Asian golf summit to look at increasing female participation

1st June 2017 - Southport Golf Club lifts restriction on voting by female members

21st February 2017 - Tokyo Olympics golf course told to admit women or lose Games events

24th July 2016 - Swing Fit aims to boost female golf participation through social and wellness engagement

12th October 2009 - Rugby and Golf win IOC approval for Olympics inclusion


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