Netballers seek to change the game

CASE FOR CHANGE: Netballers at the temporary change rooms provided for finals matches at the Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo. Picture NONI HYETT

CASE FOR CHANGE: Netballers at the temporary change rooms provided for finals matches at the Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo. Picture NONI HYETT

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An appeal for support to redevelop the state’s leading netball facility has resonated with central Victorians seeking improvements to Bendigo’s premier sporting venue.

Netball Victoria has called on the state’s netball community to get vocal about the need for proposed upgrades at the State Netball Hockey Centre in Parkville.

An open letter describes the “inadequacies” of the venue, including being “beyond capacity, aged and in desperate need of renewal and expansion.”

The same word – inadequate – was last year used to describe facilities for women at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.

With little in the way of change since speaking out about the lack of change room facilities, poor state of toilet amenities and absence of running water near the netball courts at the venue, Cath Robertson said the need for action remained. 

City of Greater Bendigo health and wellbeing director Vicky Mason said a “significant number” of sports infrastructure projects requiring funding had been identified. 

“Sports facilities without adequate facilities, including courts, lighting and change facilities, are considered for funding applications first,” she said. 

“Projects are prioritised according to merit, eligibility to available grant programs and capacity for clubs to contribute towards the project.

“The Rosalind Park Master Plan lists the replacement of the netball change rooms at the QEO for years 0-5, but is subject to funding.”

She said replacing the toilets and kiosk at the front entrance and the shelters removed in as part of the QEO redevelopment in 2010/2011 had taken priority.

“This has involved consultation with user groups,” Ms Mason said. 

The state government and VicHealth this week highlighted the need for action to improve gender equality in sport, launching a $7.5 million new initiative. 

Changing Our Game aims to raise the profile of women’s sport, boost participation, highlight the importance of women’s leadership and improve attitudes towards gender equality.

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has again called on the federal government to show its commitment to the issue and invest in female-friendly facilities.

She is pursuing a meeting with Minister for Health and Sport Greg Hunt or his office to raise the importance of supporting women's elite and grassroots sport. 

"Petitions, letters, social media and local media are vital as they keep the issue on the agenda and demonstrate the community support," Ms Chesters said.