Melbourne University Sport’s initiatives to make a more inclusive environment for LGBTQI people has received numerous awards at the 2020 Australian Pride in Sport Awards.

The University was awarded the Sporting Organisation of the Year, Most Improved Sporting Organisation Award and received a gold tier ranking on the Pride in Sport Index.

The Melbourne University Water Polo Club was also nominated for the LGBTQI Community Sport Award at this year’s Australian Pride in Sport Awards and MU Sport Diversity Coordinator Chris Bunting was nominated for the LGBTQI Out Role Model of the Year Award.

Director of Sport at Melbourne University Tim Lee said it was a team effort to make sporting clubs at the university more inclusive for LGBTQI people. 

“These sorts of things aren’t the initiative of one individual. A lot of staff and students at the university are a part of the community or committed allies, so there is a lot of personal passion in getting these programs going,” he said. “It’s been a journey for all of us, I think we’ve learnt a little bit more about (LGBTQI) people’s experiences and we’ve heard their stories and now understand what we need to do to break down those barriers.”  

The MU Sport Board have endorsed an LGBTQI Inclusion Policy and held a Pledge of Pride event where 30 out of the 47 sporting clubs at the university have taken part. It also worth noting 15 sporting clubs also have a LGBTQI ambassador. 

Melbourne University officially started introducing inclusion programs in 2017, but Mr Lee said that sporting clubs have been doing a lot of work prior to these initiatives.

“The initial catalyst was when our Blacks Football Club participated in the Gay? That’s Okay program in 2015. 

“As a result of that we decided to roll out a more extensive program at the university.”

“Plus our women’s football team have been leaders in this field for many years in making sure their LGBTQI team members feel included.”

Mr Lee said the University will continue to strive to welcome LGBTQI students and staff and community members to their sporting clubs.

“We’ve got the policy framework, we’ve got some good programs… now it is about engaging with more people and spreading the message.

“Community members as well as students are also joining our sporting clubs because they provide something that they can’t get in the community in terms of feeling safe and included.”

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