BVRR'S REPORTS

Bowls Victoria Regional Representative Meeting

Wednesday 12 April 2017

State Events

National Titles have been reintroduced by Bowls Australia.  That means that the various state event winners (as determined at State Champions week) will go on to play the other state winners.

Champion of State Pennant

The teams that play in the Mid-week state champions pennant are to be selected in the way that won them the pennant. ie: if Division 1 is Ladies only, then a ladies only team will play at Moama; if the Div 1 team has Men but with restrictions, the that is how that team will be selected.

It is hoped that all games will be played in the spirit of the game.

Affiliation Fee Model

Bowls Victoria has looked at many different scenarios.  The overwhelming response from those clubs that submitted responses to BV is that the new model be “fair”.  Everybody will be advised shortly as to what the new model will look like.

Region Visits

Bowls Victoria considers it very important that all clubs, divisions, regions attend these meetings.  BV are giving all clubs the opportunity to address their concerns directly with them.  It is seen as vital for the future of the sport.

The Bendigo Campaspe region visit is on Wednesday 17 May at (at time of the meeting) a venue that is still to be determined.  All agenda items for the meeting are to be in to BV a fortnight before the meeting (ie for us, no later than 3 May 2017)

Equal Opportunity

Most of the meeting was taken up with a presentation from Lauren Matthews, the senior Legal advisor to the Victoria Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission.  Most of what she said related to single gender events (club games, tournaments etc).  Pennant is considered a closed book by VEOHRC.

Please note also that some of this is different to what we were told at earlier BVRR meetings, but I can only report what was said.  A Ladies only event is also discrimination.

 Any single sex event is discriminating against the other gender.  The bowls* provisions in the act are put there to allow lawful discrimination.  What clubs must consider, when looking at running a single sex game is whether they can qualify for an exception under the Act that allows them to run the single sex event.  If they feel that they do not qualify for an exception under the act, but still want to run the event then they must apply to VCAT for an exemption from the act.

 How do you determine if you are an exception to the Act

 Criteria for facilitating participation.

  1. Intention to facilitate participation. If you are going to run a single sex event, what do you intend to do help the other sex participate in a similar game.
  2. You must be reasonable
  • The nature and purpose of the game
  • The consequences of excluding people
  • What opportunities are there for those that are excluded

Clubs must do their homework.  They must survey their members and it is important for both men and women to be listened separately, even individually.  The VEOHRC has found that a lot of people take all of this extremely personally and you must consider this.

When doing your homework, you must record why you running the event.  You must keep evidence or proof to back up your decision.  This can be minutes of meetings or some similar style of record.  The evidence can be stored electronically or the old fashioned way.

If a club, running a single sex event, feels that they have met the criteria for an exception, they do not need to apply to VCAT and also can advertise that event as a single sex event.

For example, if a club runs a Men’s gold letter fours day and also runs a Ladies fours day (invitation perhaps), then that is considered okay under the act.  Both sexes have an opportunity to play the game, nobody is being excluded.  The date when the event is run does not have to be around the same time, but you must record why.

Similarly, if a club runs a men’s pairs championship and a ladies pairs championship then everybody has an equal opportunity to participate.  If that club also runs a mixed pairs event, it is even better.

“Time” is a factor, given that most clubs will schedule ladies games during the week.  Once again, though you must document why these games are scheduled then.

Just because an event has been going for a very long time does not mean that it qualifies for an exception or even for an exemption.

Lauren and Graeme Bridge are working together to put together a package that is clear for everybody, hopefully without too much legalese.  This may take another six months yet, so do not hold your breath.

The VEOHRC has advice line open during business hours and there is still information available on their website that is still valid from a few years ago.

At the end of the presentation I asked about bowlers arm only events.  Apparently because people who use bowlers arms are considered to have a disability, then that is considered lawful discrimination and able bodied bowlers can be excluded.

  • Apparently lawn bowls was specifically referred to during the passage of the act and these provisions have been put there by the politicians just for our sport.

The next BVRR meeting will be held in September 2017 at a place to be determined.

Stephen Piercy

BVRR

27 April 2017