Intersectionality has become a buzz word across many industries. Intersectionality, as a term and concept, has surged in popularity and is rapidly informing the work of many people in the diversity and inclusion space. Like any new concept, there is often confusion around how it is used in a practical sense.

Intersectionality should be used as a framework for understanding oppression and discrimination. CMSport is proud to be a member of Diversity and Inclusion in Sport Alliance (DISA) and is hosting a hybrid Forum soon that brings Australian sport sector leaders together to discuss how inequality is not the outcome of individual intentions, but rather a result of systemic barriers that need to be addressed to ensure sport is a safe space for everyone. DISA brings together leaders from across sport that represent key advocacy bodies including Play by the Rules and Pride in Sport, as well as multiple Universities and State Departments of Sport and Recreation.

Originally used as a legal principle, “intersectionality” was coined by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Crenshaw cited a 1976 court case against American corporate giant General Motors where a group of African-American women alleged employment discrimination when they were laid off. The Court found that that the employment of African-American male factory workers disproved racial discrimination, and the employment of white female office workers disproved gender discrimination. Crenshaw rightly highlighted that the court failed to consider the intersection of race and gender and the compounded discrimination faced by African-American women.

It is many decades since the development of the concept and now Australian sport must consider how our systems of inequality are based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class and other forms of discrimination that “intersect” to create unique dynamics and effects. CMSport’s work is inherently at the intersection of some minorities, including ongoing support of providing young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds improved opportunities to play, volunteer and work in sport.

Beyond that, CMSport is developing partnerships that build a better understanding of how sport improves discrimination within discrimination and tackling inequalities within inequalities. Through our work with the Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) and Proud 2 Play (P2P), CMSport is committed to identifying hidden structural barriers and support promoting the many experiences of individuals within marginalised or underrepresented groups. Our work with the KHT and seven Victorian State Sporting Associations will unpack how people of colour experience racism in community sport and the tools needed for sport to proactively build environments free from racism. At a regional level, our work with P2P addresses local barriers that are addressed by better understanding the concepts of privilege and unconscious bias.

We continue to share our expertise of working with multicultural communities to collaborate with the sector to ensure more people feel welcomed in how they engage with sport in Australia. The sector is very much at he start of an intersectional journey. At the start of this journey, we are excited to be hosting the hybrid DISA Forum that leads the discussion on how to apply an intersectional lens to Australian sport. The event will be held on 23 January 2024 – for more information see below: