This statement is in response to commentary on Netball Victoria social media around the eligibility criteria of our 2017 State Titles Competition this week, and follows a series of responses Netball Victoria has already provided via this platform.
Netball Victoria and its Associations, Leagues and Clubs (Netball Affiliates) are subject to antidiscrimination legislation, both Commonwealth and Victorian.
The primary piece of legislation applicable to Victorian Netball Affiliates – including Netball Victoria – is the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Victoria), which aims to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation in the state. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth) imposes similar obligations in relation to the conduct of sport.
As a result, the general position at law in Victoria is that for contact sports, the ‘strength, stamina and physique’ exception only applies to children aged 14 years and above. (Please refer to Netball Victoria’s Boys Participation in Grassroots Netball Resource Document for additional information on this).
Our 2017 State Titles Regulations outline the current eligibility requirements for State Titles participants, as is listed here:
2.2 Player Eligibility
2.2.4 Participant age is determined as at 31st December each year.
2.2.5 Minimum age requirements are; Open: 15 years (female only competition), 17 & Under: 14 years (female only competition), 15 & Under: 12 years.
In consideration of the Boys Participation in Grassroots Netball Resource Document, we determined that the 2017 State Titles 15 & Under competition would continue with a minimum age of 12 years. This decision meant that girls (and boys) as young as 12 would be able to participate in this age group.
Had we decided to declare this as a female only competition, it would have meant that a minimum age of 14 was required, and therefore younger girls (and boys) of 13 and 12 would have been ineligible to participate.
As currently the participation of boys in netball remains extremely low, this decision was made in the interests of maximum participation at this point in time, while also having regard to the law.
As the governing body for the sport of Netball across the State, our team continues to make decisions about our competitions and their individual regulations, ensuring they adhere to relevant law, while also supporting the organisations ultimate Vision and Mission. (Vision: to have more people involved in netball more often. Mission: to enrich Victorian Communities through the sport of netball).
Regarding the involvement of boys in netball, we are currently working with the Victorian Men’s & Mixed Netball League to support their efforts to establish a junior boy’s competition in 2018, so that boys have more options to play.
As communicated, we recognise the complexity of this situation and appreciate your understanding as we work to make the best decisions for our sport.
As Netball Victoria has now made several comments on this matter on social media in addition to this statement, we will not be commenting further at this time, and we ask people to remember that anyone who met the eligibility criteria for the recent 2017 State Titles was welcome to participate in our competition on the day, and remain respectful of all participants.