Page 647 - Week 02 - Thursday, 16 February 2017

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Women—sport and recreation

MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (5.06): Madam Deputy Speaker, today I rise to join many others in our community to voice my support and praise to the AFL Women’s League, which hosted its inaugural matches in Melbourne and Adelaide on the first weekend in February this year. I congratulate all the women who played in games and those officials who made this milestone happen. It was a watershed moment in the lives of girls and women who love sport. As I watched the players and saw the crowds streaming into local suburban grounds, I was filled with hope: hope that young girls will have new sporting role models; hope that our professional female athletes will one day be equally remunerated and recognised for their contribution; and hope that the future of women’s sport in Australia will be bright. For far too long women’s professional sport has been underreported, underfunded and undervalued.

Sport has always been a consistent part of my life. Growing up I played football in mixed teams for the Tuggeranong football club and ice hockey at the Phillip ice rink. For me, sport was an outlet. It was an opportunity to participate, to make new friends and to burn teenage energy. It kept me occupied and lifted my confidence. But being a woman who loves sport, particularly male-dominated sport, was tough.

In my youth girls who wanted to play team sports other than netball were left to join the boys teams where we were exposed to jeers of “playing like a girl.” Here in Canberra there were no opportunities to watch professional women’s sport, and media coverage was limited. As a mother of young boys I have also witnessed many girls in their teams have to discontinue playing for no other reason than gender. One by one they have to leave these mixed teams when they reach their teenage years, with many never returning.

For far too long we failed to recognise the valuable contribution sport can make to the lives of young girls, teenagers and women. It can be a vehicle against teenage truancy, it can break down entrenched gender stereotypes and it can build confidence and empower women of all ages in our community.

While today we have begun to realise these valuable contributions, there is still more that can be done. We are taking steps to improve the experience of girls and women in sport. We are investing in professional women’s sport and we are lifting the status of women’s sport more generally.

As a strong advocate for women’s sport, I look forward to the continued commitment from the ACT government to hold matches of all codes across Canberra’s sporting arenas and I especially look forward to watching the first AFL women’s game to be played here in Canberra on 18 March.

Mr Warren Carloff

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (5.10): I rise to speak on the passing of Warren John Carloff. Warren was a wonderful man whose light burnt far too briefly. Woz passed away late in January at the tender age of 38 after an on and off battle with cancer

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