Researchers have been granted permission to add a last minute submission to an independent sports panel reviewing sport in Australia.

The panel agreed to the late submission following pressure from gay rights activist Rob Mitchell after it was found no submissions had been received on fostering GLBTI inclusion in sport.

Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis last year announced the panel would look at reforming Australian sport at both elite and community levels.

Victoria University senior lecturer Dr Caroline Symons used national and overseas research to point out Australia still has a long way to go to create welcoming sporting environments for GLBTI people.

-œWe’re a silent community, silenced and silent when it comes to sport. Homophobia is seen as a difficult area and we haven’t lobbied, so they haven’t listened, Symons told Southern Star.

Although the submission process was announced publicly, Symons said she believed no GLBTI-specific submission was made because the community did not register prominently enough within sporting networks.

-œI’ve quoted the Australian Sports Commission wanting to be inclusive of everybody and yet they missed us out, she said.

-œThey also quote social cohesion and sport as being very important in bringing people together, and again forget we exist.

-œI don’t think it’s malevolent. It’s because we haven’t voiced our concerns and it’s probably seen as a bit of a difficult area.

The ASC has previously told Southern Star discussions with the GLBTI community are at a starting point and Symons said further consultations are being made.

The submission to the panel, submitted by the Challenging Homophobia in Sports Initiative, says the experience of GLBTI people in sport has been ignored.

-œIt is telling that not one of the submissions made to the Independent Sports Panel acknowledges the existence and sporting needs of GLBTI Australians, let alone their marginalised status and need of recognition and support on human rights and health grounds, the submission said.

Mitchell told Southern Star he was pleased the submission had been allowed.

-œWe look forward to ongoing dialogue, he said.

The independent sport panel is due to report to the Federal Government before the end of the year.

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