Belonging is a core, essential value behind community. What “community” looks like to you can differ from each individual but can always represent a multitude of things. When you hear the word – community – maybe you think of your netball club, school, workplace or even your book club. No matter what you define community as, your sense of belonging should always be of the utmost importance. While many of us may recognise this, it may be less clear on how to make sure others feel safe and accepted within our circle, and part of that is listening and being inclusive.
Today, we share the perspective of our First Nations peoples where spirituality and feeling connected are at the core of our principles.
Sharon Finnan-White OAM is a former Australian netball player and a two-time winner of the INF Netball World Cup with the Australian national netball team. A tenacious defender in her playing days, Finnan-White has taken that attitude into her latest venture, the Indigenous Diamonds Pathway Program. The social enterprise, developed with Aunty Roma Pregarc, will enter a team in Townsville’s premier league next season, with players from that city, as well as Far North Queensland, Brisbane and Palm Island, Alice Springs and Dubbo part of the program. Sharon has big goals, where she has hit the media calling Super Netball to add a First Nations side. And NETFIT is cheering her on.
1. Display Support
In order to be inclusive, you must first show you are genuine about wanting everyone to feel welcomed and a valued member of your community. It is always important to commence meetings and activities with an Acknowledgement of Country to the traditional owners of the land where you are located. Displaying or flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at your club/association is a key first step to show your inclusion of all First Nations peoples. Not only does this make it clear to your current members where your values lie, but it also shows others that you provide a safe and welcoming space.
2. Develop strong, meaningful relationships
Find out who the traditional owners are where your club/association is located, so you can show your respect to Elders and acknowledge the ancestors and current descendants that have looked after, and keep looking after the land you walk upon. You can find this information at your local Council, State Library, Indigenous Land Council, Native Title office, or you might even be able to find the information from a Google search but keep in mind that this information may not be accurate. When you discover who the traditional owners are, it is of great importance to contact the appropriate representatives and speak with them regarding any customs and protocols that need to be followed such as inviting an elected Elder to perform a Welcome to Country at the commencement of important occasions or official events.
3. Celebrate and encourage diversity
There are many ways to show your support and to help promote cultural understanding. An example is to host an Indigenous netball round during NAIDOC Week or Reconciliation Week, where the players and officials wear Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait islander colours or designs (e.g. socks, ribbons in hair, Indigenous designed apparel, etc).
4. Provide a voice
Create an Indigenous identified position, for example, an Indigenous Liaison Officer on one of your committees or appoint an Indigenous board member. Having a representative voice provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with a culturally supportive environment.
5. Share and embrace the knowledge
Your club/association should include cultural education within your organisational objectives so that greater awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, protocols and customs are part of the values that are embedded into your everyday culture. For this to be effectively implemented, your board and committee members should oversee and embrace the process from the top down. Cultural education that is designed for the netball industry is facilitated through our consultancy, the Institute of Sport, Culture and Leadership so please contact us for further information.