The federal government’s recent announcement of its major funding boost of $3.9 million to its Gen32 paid apprenticeship program, supporting women in high performance coaching roles, has been welcomed with open arms by aquatic industry leaders SWIM Coaches & Teachers Australia (SWIM).

The funding, which includes an extra 12 months in the paid apprenticeship program, and caters for childcare support and flexible working agreements for coaches with children, ensures the coaches will be fully prepared and ready for the next steps in their careers.

SWIM, who have been actively campaigning for the past two years for a greater representation of women in high performance coaching roles in swimming with their ‘Levelling the Deck’ initiative, which launched in 2021, aims to bridge the gap in gender equality.

“’Levelling the Deck’ recognises that women, girls, and gender diverse people who want to participate in swimming, as coaches, teachers, and swimmers, face additional barriers on the pool deck due to outdated cultures, policies, and practices,” said SWIM CEO Brendon Ward. “It was after SWIM President Joanne Love’s 2019 ‘Female Swim Coaches Speak for Themselves’ reported the lack of female representation in the sport that we launched our research in 2020 and found that women only represent 23% of coaches received ‘Performance Coach’ accreditation. This is despite our recent survey finding that 72% of female coaches would like to coach within elite ranks.”

“Our ’Levelling the Deck’ initiative has just launched its research findings in a comprehensive framework, which proposes strategies that will build systemic and effective change towards gender equality in all facets of our sport, from individuals to workplaces and even within the culture of swimming,” Mr Ward said. “Our every intention is to use our resources to widen our impact on gender equality as far as possible.”

Two swim coaches from the 29 currently listed coaches are recipients of the Gen32 program: Casey Atkins – Para on the Sunshine Coast and Brooke Kemp in Perth.
The ‘Levelling the Deck’ framework document and findings can be viewed on the SWIM website: https://scta.org.au/levelling-the-deck