Sport is often considered a defining characteristic of the Australian identity. On the pitch, oval, court or field we are all equal.
Welcoming Sport is Welcoming Australia’s overarching banner for initiatives that embrace the power of sport as a vehicle for inclusion, opportunity and creating a sense of belonging for all members of the community – including, recently arrived migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum. Our aim is to support young people, their families, local communities and clubs – make meaningful connections through sport.
Welcoming Sport focuses on seven key areas:
Providing opportunities for individuals and groups to participate in diverse sports & recreation activities, competitions and tournaments.
Supporting and facilitating access to clubs, fee negotiation, budgeting, uniforms/equipment, and facilities.
Identifying and supporting training and employment pathways for referees, officials, and community coaches.
Supporting sporting codes and clubs to access evidence-based research, policies, case studies and leading practice.
Facilitating cross-sector collaboration and brokering multi-sector partnerships to maximise learning, reach and impact.
Sharing good news stories and recognising the existing efforts of sporting codes and clubs that demonstrate leading practice and innovation in welcoming efforts.
Standard + Accreditation
Setting the Standard for cultural diversity and inclusion policy and practice in sports & recreation.
The Power of Sport
Sport and Recreation is recognised as a community activity that can support diversity and help to transcend social, cultural and national barriers. A European Commission report identified sport as an open and inclusive activity, where migrants can develop a network of friends with similar interests.
The Australian Research Council conducted research on the Football United program and found that in times of significant change, sport can be a comforting familiarity to young people. Sport can also provide an opportunity for cultural exchange and learning about community norms and values in a safe environment. Furthermore, research undertaken by the Centre for Multicultural Youth found that participating in sport and recreational activities was identified as contributing to the engagement of young people through; capacity building, trust building, therapeutic benefits and its role as an entry point for broader participation and engagement.
Welcome to the Game
Welcome to the Game is a grassroots sports inclusion program for recently arrived migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum. Whether it’s an Aqua English class, accredited umpiring course, or pop-up soccer event – the program recognises the power of sport to bring people together. In Victoria, the program is auspiced by the Australian Paralympic Committee to support children and young people living with disabilities that are from refugee, asylum seeking and other migrant backgrounds.
Welcome to the Game (Queensland)
Welcome to the Game Queensland is one aspect of a wider My Youth Vision Project (MYVP), run by Multicultural Development Australia (MDA), that aims to engage, inspire and empower recently arrived young people between the ages of 15-25 who have been in Australia less than 5 years.
Welcome to the Game Queensland uses sport as a vehicle for creating connections between recently arrived young people, their families and their local communities.
Welcome to the Game Queensland operates in 4 ways:
- Individual support for young people looking for opportunities to access sport and physical activity
- Group support for informal sports participants looking to increase their knowledge and understanding of formal sport, to access traditional sporting structures and to increase participation.
- Sports club support and education to improve inclusiveness, welcome and community engagement.
- Direct delivery of community sports programs.
Welcome to the Game (Victoria)
Welcome to the Game Victoria works with children and young people living with disabilities that are also from refugee, asylum seeking and other migrant backgrounds.
The program is auspiced by the Australian Paralympic Committee and currently receives funding from the Victorian State Government through the Multicultural Sports Fund.
Many young people living with disabilities who are refugees or seeking asylum are not eligible for the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) and/or their families are navigating additional barriers related to language, finance and social isolation.
Upon referral to the program, the Program Coordinator meets with the young person and develops a tailored plan (with input from parents and the referring organisation). The plan helps them to identify:
- personal goals;
- a sport or recreational activity they are interested in participating in;
- barriers to engagement; and,
- potential disability aids and supports needed to engage in the activities.
Once the plan is in place, the Program Coordinator utilises a strengths-based approach to support the young person and their family to enact the plan. This could include supporting them to liaise with the chosen club, identify carpooling opportunities, and assisting with a small subsidy to pay for club fees and uniforms.
The program places a strong emphasis on building sustainable links and developing relationships in the community to achieve a participants goals and desired outcomes.
Welcoming Clubs exists to support sports and recreation club to create a sense of belonging for all their stakeholders (inclusive of players, members, employees, volunteers, supporters, sponsors, families, suppliers and the surrounding community). The initiative applies both a grassroots and systemic approach to addressing sports inclusion for recently arrived migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum – recognising the power of sport to bring people together.
 European Commission (2016) “Mapping of good practices relating to social inclusion of migrants through sport – Final report to the DG Education and Culture of the European Commission”
 Australian Research Council (2013) Playing for Change – Improving People’s Life Through Football (Football UnitedResearch Report)
 Centre for Multicultural Youth, The role of sport and recreation in helping refugee young people to ‘settle well’ in Australia (2007)