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About us

The Beginning

Welcoming Clubs started in Brisbane, Queensland in 2016 as a settlement support initiative under the name ‘Welcome to the Game’. Working alongside settlement services, Welcome to the Game supported children and young people who had arrived to Australia on humanitarian visas to access sport as a way of connecting with their local community. 

This involved:

  • Supporting families with the registration process, 
  • Finding uniforms and equipment,
  • Introducing families to the complexities of our sports system
  • Attending training sessions and games
  • Working with clubs to understand the unique challenges faced by new participants compared to those familiar with the Australian sporting system.
 

In the 3 years from 2016, the program supported hundreds of children and young people to join programs and clubs and participate in local events and tournaments.

A shift towards community capacity building rather than individual support increased our reach and impact and encouraged communities to plan and run their own sporting events. Many young people were able to complete accredited coaching and refereeing courses and gain casual employment in the community sport sector. 

 

'I was asked to bring the oranges for the game but I didn't know what this means, why do they need oranges to play football?'

Welcome to the Game- Victoria

In 2017, Paralympics Australia and the Victoria State Government funded Welcoming Australia to expand its services into Victoria with a focus on intersectionality. The program supports children and young people from diverse backgrounds, living with a disability and their families, to access sport and recreation activities in their local community, acknowledging the additional and intersecting barriers they may face.

We achieve this through:

  • Providing individualised support to participants and their families
  • Supporting organisations/ clubs who have experience working with diverse communities to increase their capacity for including participants with disabilities, in particular intellectual disabilities, autism and psychosocial challenges
  • Supporting organisations/ clubs who have deliver inclusion programs for All Abilities to increase their cultural inclusion skills and increase the diversity of their participant base.
 

Our focus sports are basketball, football (soccer) and water safety.

Funded by the Department of Social Services, Information and Community Linkages 2020-2023. 

Becoming Welcoming Clubs

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a long-anticipated shift to focussing on building the capacity in community clubs. Along with this came the name change to ‘Welcoming Clubs’ as a banner to sit over all projects, programs and activities and to reflect the increasing interest from organisations doing sport that may not be considered sport. 

In the same year, we introduced the inaugural version of The Welcoming Clubs Standard—the first of its kind in Australia. This standard remains the exclusive measurement tool for community sports clubs, specifically tailored to welcoming and including individuals from diverse backgrounds and non-traditional member groups. Developed through ongoing consultation, implementation, and testing, the Standard has evolved into a modern, strengths-based tool. Clubs can now use it as a roadmap to advance inclusion and celebrate their successes.

Using the Standard as the foundation framework, Welcoming Clubs now provides a comprehensive array of adaptable resources, tools, and services useful for all community clubs. With an increased emphasis on measurement and data, we strive to inform decision-making and achieve better outcomes for clubs and their communities.  

 

VOLUNTEERS- the backbone of Australian sport

Sport does not operate without the thousands of volunteers who give their time, love and energy to their clubs week in week out. Volunteers are both the greatest asset and challenge for clubs, playing a pivotal role in fostering welcome and inclusion.

It is critical that everything we provide for clubs matches the needs and resources of the club and its community. 

The most consistent hurdle for clubs committing to necessary changes and actions lies in the importance of volunteers and the increasing demands on their time. 

Recognising this, Welcoming Clubs ensures that all programs, projects, and activities are either designed by or developed in collaboration with volunteers. Careful consideration is given to their existing commitments and time constraints.

The present and future

Looking towards 2023, our vision remains the same. 

We love sport, not for the goals, trophies or premierships, but for the community it provides, the connections it allows us all to create and for the sense of belonging that everyone has the opportunity to experience. 

We love working with clubs, codes, councils and community organisations across Australia. We love supporting them to inspire and activate their communities and ensure that Australian sport is a place where everyone has the opportunity to belong, contribute and thrive. 

Our CLubs Team

Maia Tua-Davidson

Maia Tua-Davidson

Welcoming Clubs Manager

Jessica Scannell

Jessica Scannell

Welcome to the Game Coordinator

Ross Borland

Ross Borland

Active Inclusion Club Mentor Coordinator

Aya Helmy

Aya Helmy

Inclusion Support Champion

About Welcoming

Welcoming Australia exists to cultivate a culture of welcome and create a future where people of all backgrounds have equal opportunity to belong contribute and thrive. 

Welcoming Clubs is an initiative of Welcoming Australia, proudly supported by the Scanlon Foundation. 

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Acknowledgement

Our work is conducted on the stolen lands and waters of First Nations representing hundreds of clans and language groups. We acknowledge that our lives have benefitted from theft and dispossession and that we have a responsibility to support the efforts of Indigenous peoples as they work towards self-determination, sovereignty and land back. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. 

Always was, always will be Aboriginal Land.