VRDL Diversity & Inclusion Report Nov 2018

NEWS / / by jcdadmin


From the Executive Committee
Following a number of grievances raised internally and externally with the league, we have identified issues of diversity and inclusion within our club. Over the past year, we have been working to assess the problems that exist within our league culture, addressing these issues and creating a space that is inclusive for all.

We recognise that change, particularly cultural change within an organisation, is something that cannot happen immediately, particularly when matters are systemic. Although we are taking steps to address and resolve the issues identified, we understand that this will take time. These concerns have brought to light the lack of necessary infrastructure within our league to best address these matters. Since being made aware of this, we have begun making significant changes. These changes include restructuring our league, implementing internal processes, seeking professional advice and support, and educating our members so that we can enact positive change and move towards a more just, fair and equitable league.

We recognise that we have mishandled grievances in the past, and failed to achieve suitable and equitable outcomes for the league and our members – current and past. We also acknowledge that we did not have structures in place to ensure that people of diverse backgrounds found the league to be a positive and inclusive environment, perpetuating systemic structural inequities.

We hope to demonstrate through this report and into the future that we are beginning to take accountability for this, and that our league and members are working progressively to create a better, more just and inclusive future. Furthermore, we are committing to a number of actions to help create positive spaces for all league members now and into the future, and readdress failures of the past.

Actions we have taken in 2018
In 2018, VRDL members and the Executive Committee have spent time analysing our current league policies and structure, and laying the foundations for a more inclusive and positive environment at VRDL moving forward. We have taken a number of actions to foster diversity and inclusion within our community, with the intention to make VRDL more just, fair and equitable for all members:

  • Establishing a diversity and inclusion committee, dedicated to identifying areas that require change, promoting education, and acting as a strong advisory and task force for our executive committee and membership.
  • Arranged an educational workshop for the whole league, facilitated by Dr Ruth de Souza, focusing on cultural safety and inclusion. (23 March, 2018)
  • Committed to ongoing recognition and engagement with traditional owners of the land on which VRDL is based and any lands to which we travel for competition or training.
    • Official recognition of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation at VRDL training venue
    • Liaison with tournament organisations to ensure acknowledgement of country is made at all travel team tournaments for the lands on which the tournament is held and the lands on which we train
  • Funds raised for RISE – refugees, survivors and ex detainees at TGSS tournament (9-11 July 2018)
  • Including skaters’ pronouns in team rosters, and requesting pronouns from captains of opposing teams.
  • A focus on applying for grants to fund initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion.
    VRDL has been awarded a grant that will fund a ‘roller derby in schools’ initiative that will help us connect with the local community. This will commence in November 2018. One of the schools that VRDL will be working with has a high representation of Indigenous families and those of lower socioeconomic status. Through this initiative we aim to break down some of the barriers to participation in roller derby. No other grants have been awarded yet, but the team is working closely with Grant Professionals director Robert Palmaricciotti to identify and secure grants relevant to diversity and inclusion.
  • Focusing on diversity and inclusion initiatives as priority areas for fundraising efforts in future
  • Opening and maintaining lines of communication with WFTDA around league culture, diversity and inclusion and member/team support (June 2018)
  • Liaising with other leagues (ie. CRDL) who are working on diversity and inclusion so that we can share and implement effective practices
  • Conducting a thorough analysis of grievances has led us to identify that rostering is a significant factor in the reason for the lodgement of complaints. (This information and everything else captured in the survey mentioned below will help shape policy and procedure changes made )
  • Developing a detailed and extensive survey to identify any trends of issues and experiences to be
    administered internally and to past members (October, 2018)

As diversity and inclusion issues were raised by a number of outgoing team members, the All Stars and their
Leadership Group have made concerted efforts to work on team culture, including:

  • Discussing concerns for team culture and team needs (June 2018)
  • All Stars leadership developing an open dialogue for support with WFTDA Reps and VRDL’s executive and diversity and inclusion committees (June and September 2018)
  • Participating as a team in a conflict resolution workshop run by an external HR professional (June 2018)
  • All Stars Leadership participating in a conflict resolution workshop run by an external HR professional (June 2018)
  • Participating in team building activities such as a circus workshop (July 2018) and team retreat (August 2018)
  • Team culture meeting focused on appropriate language and communication, their role as leaders and respect (September 2018)
  • Learning about Indigenous cultures of the places they are visiting, including placing a Denver Indigenous acknowledgement and information pack in the team handbook prior to Thin Air Throwdown tournament. Acknowledging the Indigenous history of the Denver region and Colorado more broadly, and recognising the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (September 2018)
  • Team meeting focusing on communication pathways and processes, including conflict resolution avenues, personal accountability, behaviour and interpersonal management plans. (October 2018)
  • All Stars leadership representatives attending workshops including ‘Mental Health in Sports Clubs Forum’ hosted by Headspace and Banyule Council, Sport and Life Training, and the ‘Diversity and Inclusion in Sport’ Forum, hosted by Play by the Rules (October 2018)
  • A team commitment to self-education by participating in workshops and attending seminars that educate on team culture, conflict resolution, diversity and inclusion in 2019

Actions in 2019
We recognise that diversity, inclusion and fostering a positive and equitable league culture is an ongoing process. Therefore, we have committed to the following for 2019:

  • Conduct a comprehensive survey of current and past members, to be reviewed by an impartial party. A survey is being written and will ask the current and past members of VRDL to anonymously provide examples of issues they may have had with league structures and processes (de-identified with no names in the examples) and to get constructive suggestions on what changes we can all make to improve this. The results of the survey will be used to guide the proposed policy review; the
    restructuring of the league and its constitution; the policies that guide it; the informal processes that happen within it; grievance and disciplinary procedures; appeal processes; the way that power is delegated from the executive committee to league committees and people in elected positions; how we elect positions; what each role in the league is responsible for; how we make team selection and rostering decisions; checks and balances; how decisions are made and appealed; how we
    communicate; how we report on our work, when we meet, and any other structural or operational challenges that members identify.
  • Continue to review all league policies and procedures with the support of the Diversity and Inclusion committee, along with external advisors. We aim to restructure the league to ensure that policies serve the people of the league in a just and sustainable manner.
  • Continue to work with other leagues, community groups, state government sporting associations, and governing bodies to establish new and better structures, policies and processes within the league.
  • Engage an independent human resources professional to support members, and an external grievance officer to ensure equitable resolutions to grievances.
  • Values workshop with Anthony, our Strategy and Planning advisor.
  • Ensure that all league members participate in diversity and inclusion workshops, as requested by team leadership, as a condition of being a member of VRDL (yearly reviews)
  • Apply for 2018-19 VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT SPORTING CLUB GRANT CATEGORY 4 – With this grant we can apply for up to $1,000 for uniforms and equipment, up to $2,000 for skills development training and up to $750 for travel to competition or training to help increase Indigenous participation in sport.
  • Establish confidential and unbiased avenues for both internal and external feedback to be provided to the league.

In this process of transformation, we welcome feedback. If you should have any, please submit it to vrdl@vrdl.org.

Yours in Derby,
Victorian Roller Derby League

Click here to download a full copy of this report.