Our Club - A Place for Everyone
Building strong and connected communities is important for everyone. Local sporting clubs provide an opportunity to bring people together with increased participation in sport, social connection and a sense of belonging. The Our Club initiative 2019–2021 represents a significant partnership with the Eastern Football Netball League (EFNL) clubs designed to focus on:
- social inclusion,
- the promotion of mental health and wellbeing, and
- a reduction in alcohol-related harm.
Our Club emerged from work being undertaken by Communities That Care Knox and engagement with local football clubs around alcohol consumption and drinking culture. When the need for such a project and additional resourcing was identified, the Action on Alcohol Flagship Group took a leadership role in the delivery of this work. The Flagship Group represents a long-standing partnership across the EMR, with both the Inner East and Outer East PCPs contributing leadership and resourcing. The group is a sector-wide voice on advocacy, awareness, systemic change, capacity building and leadership from a primary prevention perspective.
An initial call out saw 43 clubs from across the EMR sign up to the Our Club initiative; a truly phenomenal response. These clubs were subsequently invited to an initial workshop with a focus on co-designing a messaging approach which would be meaningful to them. The workshop was attended by more than 70 guests from the EFNL clubs, community health organisations and other sector practitioners. They explored values-based messaging principles and then worked collaboratively to design the Our Club messaging.
This workshop informed the development of a suite of resources including posters, banners and social media content, much of which included the individual clubs’ colours. A communications guide was then developed to complement these resources.
With the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020, participating clubs highlighted the need for a greater focus on mental health – both knowing where to access support, as well as addressing some of the stigmas which may prevent people from reaching out. Specifically, clubs identified that masculine cultures can often create barriers to starting conversations around mental health.
Further engagement with the clubs informed the development of another series of posters and resources and information sheets about mental health supports and on initiating conversation. These resources represented a significant and innovative response from the Outer East PCP to an emerging issue which hadn’t been an initial focus of the project. Whilst changing COVID-19 restrictions presented some challenges to the rollout of the messaging, participating clubs shared the resources throughout their premises and online via social media.
Our Club was supported by a strong working group that encompassed Knox, Maroondah and Monash Councils, EACH and the Outer East PCP. The broader partnership included Manningham, Yarra Ranges, Boroondara and Whitehorse Councils, community health services from across the EMR and the invaluable support of the EFNL.
The Our Club Evaluation Report highlighted the important conversations that the initiative had started. Strong appreciation was expressed for the support provided by the Outer East PCP and the working group, with the particular focus the project placed on highlighting mental health supports and breaking down social stigmas. Club supporters and spectators in particular applauded the campaign’s messaging and expressed appreciation for their clubs and how they took the lead in starting these conversations.
Communication Guide: Our Club: A Place for Everyone
Evaluation Report: Our Club: A Place for Everyone
*This article first appeared in Powerful Collaborative Partnerships, a commemorative document celebrating 21 years of the Inner East and Outer East PCPs. The article was compiled by Alex Mills with contributions from PCP staff.