Australian Sport + Voting 2022
Updated: May 28, 2022
Politics matters to sport.
“Stay in your lane, keep out of politics”
This has been a statement sport has had to grapple with a lot. Recently and historically I am proud of Australian Sport leaders (from all areas of sport) who have and are strongly speaking up, out of their ‘lane’, to support important social and environmental issues that impact the Australian sports community.
But have we done enough and how, and should, sport stand up and support voting as we go to the polls this May?
There are many things that the press is calling this election the ‘election of’ environmental and social issues, climate change, housing, health, human rights and of course the economy. With a sports lens these things are an ‘election of’ the glue of sport. Of volunteers, equity, inclusion, physical activity, safe and climate resilient places to play, infrastructure and pathways. A complex range ‘of’ issues!
So, what is sports role when it comes to the election? Here is one lens to apply.
In Australia, like every other democratised country, not all votes are as easy to access as others. Not every Australian can access our democracy as easily as their neighbour. Not every Australian may see their vote as worthy, important or impactful.
This is where sport can play a role. Sport can help its community to ‘find their vote’ and ‘prepare to vote’.
Think of ‘finding your vote’ a little like wanting to find and try a sport to play.
The polling booth is like the location of the club or activity venue.
At our clubs and sports venues around Australia we are focused on dissolving barriers to afford greater access. Some of these barriers are easily overcome, some are more challenging. The same goes for accessing a polling booth.
Where is it? How do you get there? What day and time do you need to be there and what do you do when you arrive? Can you bring your kids or family? Is it a safe place to be? If you can’t get there, how do you ‘find’ your vote?
When you do ‘find’ a club or activity to try or join there will be registration forms, membership information and match day rules (these can be confusing for even sports stalwarts) to understand and fill out correctly. If we don’t, we may not be able to play, be disqualified or embarrassed. Similarly, when someone ‘finds’ their vote, they must fill out the ballot paper correctly or their vote won’t count, they need to ‘prepare to vote’.
So, to cast a valid ballot paper and have your vote count you need to be voting fit. How to vote is just as important as getting to the point of having the ballot paper before you. Voting fitness is like match fitness. Effort brings results, practice grows confidence and success.
So, what can sport do formally or informally to help their community ‘find’ their vote and ‘prepare’ to be voting fit?
Well, just as sport has mechanisms to support access and build skills so does the Australian Electoral Commission.
Here are some links to resources from the Australian Electoral Commission.
Ways to vote and finding where to vote:
Translated voting information:
https://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/Translated_information/ and other information for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Information for people who are blind or have low vision:
This information does not direct who to vote for, rather how to become someone who votes. To encourage and support our sports community to use their vote and support everyone to know how to successfully vote is something to consider.
Our vote is one of the most valuable things we have in our democracy.
Our vote supports human rights, the climate and environment, access to services including health, education, employment, and sport.
Our vote is our personal choice and requires a game plan. Being match fit requires preparation. Being voting fit does too.
Could you flash up a link to the AEC during your matches this week on the score board, tweet ‘Remember to vote – find out more at the Australian Electoral Commission’….?
For examples of how the USA sports community encouraged communities, particular American BIPOC communities, to vote during the 2020 US election visit 2020 election season features sports, politics, athlete activism, voting efforts & Athletes and the US election: How a generation of stars got in the game.
Repeatedly standing up for your sports community as commentators, administrators, athletes and coaches, on issues like climate change, equity, diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, sports betting, fossil fuel and fast food sponsorship clearly show politicians how we expect the world to be.
AFLP4CA and Jordon Roughead continue to speak up on climate change and this article in The Age pre going to the polls he hopes all Australians considered climate action with their vote. "Speaking at the AFL’s launch of Sir Doug Nicholls round on Monday, Roughead said he hoped climate change was a “consideration of most people when they head to polls”.
Green Planet Sport is all about building regenerative sport culture so if you personally want to fact check and find out more about this #climate and party policies visit:
Another great resource is ABC Australia Votes. You can see where you sit on major election issues amidst the major parties with Vote Compass and build your own vote card for Election Day. Visit https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/federal-election-2022/