News + Views

Successful ‘first bounce’ for the Women’s SupPORT Pathways Project

LACW’s Women’s SupPORT Pathways Project is entering its second year in 2023, a project looking to support women and gender diverse people (aged 18 years and over who have experience of the criminal legal system or are at risk of experiencing the criminal legal system) to participate in their local Aussie Rules Footy club.

Sports clubs can provide opportunities for social connection, developing skills, fun, relationship building, structure, learning how to win and lose, and how to be part of a team, and the project believes all women should have the opportunity to access these benefits.

A major goal for the second year of the Project is to run more ‘Come and Try’ days, so that the benefits of football can be accessed by women who are interested in the project but who are not currently in a position to make a 12-month commitment to a local club. On Thursday 9 February 2023, the second ‘Come and Try’ day of the Project was held and was a great success! Activities for the day were guided by former AFLW player, 2018 VFLW Coach of the Year and women’s football legend Penny Cula-Reid. Penny was supported on the day by LACW social work placement students – current AFLW players Karen Paxman and Liz McGrath. Representatives from participating local footy clubs also attended, with Melbourne University F.C. Head Coach Em Fox joining in on the fun and shared experiences of the inclusive and welcoming environment at her club.

Law and Advocacy Centre for Women case managers and lawyers got involved in the activities on the day. This included LACW’s CEO Ellie Pappas and Principal Lawyer Jill Prior, and it was a really positive experience for participants to engage with staff outside of the office.

Participants who had successfully engaged with the project in 2022 spoke and shared their experiences of the project so far. One participant talked about their experience of building community through involvement with Williamstown CYMS Football Club and how she has noticed how much her confidence and communication skills have developed through her participation. A total of 7 project participants joined in on the day and Project staff are looking forward to supporting these women to connect with local football clubs.

The Women’s SupPORT Pathways Project is still open to new participants for the next community AFL football season, so if you know someone that may be interested in participating, please get in contact with Jacquie Phiddian, Project Manager on 9448 8930 or

By Elizabeth McGrath (MSW) and Karen Paxman (BSW), supervised by Kat Ogilvie (CIJ) 

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