Indigenous Australian women promoting health through sport

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sport Management Review, 2019, 22 (1), pp. 5 - 20
Issue Date:
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© 2018 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand The authors explore the sporting experiences and community strengths of Indigenous Australian women. The intention is to inform both health promotion and contemporary sport management strategies, and policies and practices, leading to better health outcomes for this cohort. The authors employ an interpretative qualitative methodology, which involves the combination of data from a range of sources, including interviews and focus groups with 22 Indigenous women living in urban and rural areas, narratives from elite Indigenous athletes and coaches, as well as findings from a recent Australian Parliamentary inquiry into Indigenous health and wellbeing. Drawing from an agency/empowerment theoretical framework, the authors posit that, given support and opportunities, Indigenous women can become empowered to improve their mental and physical health through participation in sport. Sport managers can facilitate Indigenous women's agency in the effects of colonisation, which continues to be the basis of health issues for this cohort. Listening to Indigenous women and facilitating opportunities for them to take control of their own participation can help facilitate this process. Indigenous-women's only opportunities, partnerships with health agencies and sports organisations, culturally safe spaces and Indigenous women acting as role models are some factors that may augment Indigenous women's agency, and thus empowerment. Government, sports, community organisations and health agencies which provide these conditions in their program design can help to overcome entrenched social, historical and health inequalities that Indigenous women may experience.
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