2012-2014 Last updated: 20 Jul, 2015

The Healthy Sporting Environments program supports the development of sustainable policies in sporting organisations.

VicHealth’s pioneering Healthy Sporting Environments program is giving us a better understanding of how health promotion can be weaved through grassroots sports clubs.

The potential for sporting environments to promote good health is widely recognised, given the role they play in the community and the number of people regularly involved.

VicHealth created this program to support sports clubs to become healthier, welcoming and more inclusive.

Evaluation was a major part of the program – identifying how community sports clubs can work through some of the major health issues that affect Victorians.

Six standards for healthy clubs

We know from experience and our long-standing partnerships in sport that people flock to good clubs. We also know that sports clubs can sometimes give rise to unhealthy environments that can discourage people from participating, deter broader community engagement, and perpetuate unhealthy attitudes and behaviours.

Community sports clubs participating in this program are striving to become healthier by achieving minimum standards relating to six key factors that shape people’s experience in a sports club and impact on health.

These standards apply differently to each club, and are dependent on sport type, facilities, understanding of health issues and volunteer capacity.

Clubs across the state are being supported to implement policies, programs and practices to ensure that:

  • alcohol is served and consumed responsibly
  • a variety of healthy food and drink choices are available
  • smoke-free venues become the norm
  • women and girls, Aboriginal Victorians and people from culturally diverse communities are provided with safe, supportive and meaningful opportunities to participate, free from discrimination and fear of violence
  • injury prevention and management is prioritised within clubs
  • measures are taken to reduce harmful exposure to UV

Regional and rural roll-out

This unique program was initially implemented in 73 clubs by Leisure Networks in the local government areas of the wider Barwon region – the City of Greater Geelong, Golden Plains Shire, Surf Coast Shire, Borough of Queenscliffe and Colac Otway Shire.

Much of the work involved adapting and using existing health promotion programs and resources targeted to sports clubs.

Given the success of the demonstration project (which concluded in March 2013), the program was expanded to regional and rural areas throughout Victoria. We are now working with nine Regional Sports Assemblies to ensure that an additional 250 clubs receive tailored support to improve their club environments.