Ministry of Sport brings girls to the front in fifth Women In Sport Summit

Women in Sport 2023

This year’s theme was Face your Identity

On Tuesday July 18th, the QT Gold Coast opened its doors to the fifth Ministry of Sport Women In Sport Summit. The conference brought together people from every corner of the sporting world to celebrate and elevate women’s sports, all focussing on this year’s theme: Face your Identity.

Ahead of the day’s official proceedings, a welcome breakfast held by Kayo saw Fox Sports host Jess Yates sit down with Queensland Firebirds captain Kim Ravaillion and Gold Coast Titans player Jaime Chapman. The trio spoke about what it means to be a woman in sport, and what sort of balances and sacrifices need to be made to become a professional athlete.

Women in Sport 2023

Jess Yates with Kim Ravaillion and Jaime Chapman

Welcoming everyone to the Summit was an AI named Wisi, the event’s MC. Then Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took to the stage to give the opening address, highlighting all the ways that the state had worked to become a key location for women’s sports. Referencing Field of Dreams, Palaszczuk told that room that they had found that “if you build it she will come – and she will bring her friends.”

Women in Sport 2023

Meet ‘Wisi’, the AI MC

The first panel of the day was then hosted by Tracey Holmes, chatting to Palaszczuk, Anika Wells (Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport), and Sarah Styles (Director of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in Victoria).

The scheduled proceedings for the panel were pushed back, instead with Holmes opting to focus instead on the breaking news – that the Victorian Government had announced the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games. 

The panel agreed that the move would be “disappointing” for the athletes looking to represent their country on home soil, but Palaszczuk shot down any suggestion of the Games returning to the Gold Coast, saying that the state is instead focussed on the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Women in Sport 2023

Tracey Holmes, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Anika Wells, and Sarah Styles

Next up were Georgine Roodenrys and Felicity Wilson from Deloitte, who gave audiences an insight into the data behind women’s sports, and where Australia sits in the world. Whilst some of the stats were positive – 360 million viewers watched the 2022 Women’s European Championship for football – others were less so – like the fact that male athletes still earn an estimated five times more than female athletes in terms of sponsorship deals alone. 

Jessica Smith OAM then took to the stage to tell her story of being a female athlete with a disability. Born without one arm and having suffered severe burns as a toddler, Smith told the audience all about the hurdles she had faced during her swimming career, culminating in the 2004 Paralympic Games. 

Jessica Smith OAM

Jessica Smith OAM

The final panel of the morning was hosted by former forensic psychologist Graziella Thake, who spoke with Dara Mclean Korn, Belinda Woolford, and QLD Indigenous athlete Ramone Close about the line between cult and culture when it comes to sport. 

The day then broke for lunch, and returned with a series of sessions over multiple streams, making for an inspiring and informative day supporting women’s sports.

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