Victoria University and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) have teamed up to create a formal pathway to help advance the careers of women as sport leaders.

Two graduates of the ASC’s 'Stepping In' program will continue their leadership development by receiving scholarships for VU’s Master of Sport Business and Integrity degree.

The degree is the only one in Australia to examine sport business with an integrity focus, providing graduates with specialised business and personal skills for the pressures of modern sport management.

Recipients of the scholarships are:

  • Toni Lourens, of High Performance and International Programs, Australian University Sport
  • Kym McMahon, National Participation Manager at Swimming Australia.
  • VU & ASC programs for female leaders

Pro Vice-Chancellor of VU’s Sport Strategy Professor Hans Westerbeek said VU has always been a strong supporter of women as leaders in sport.

“This pathway program with the ASC will provide talented women with the skills, knowledge and development opportunities for them to become future leaders in the global sport industry.”

A relatively small proportion of women currently work in sport leadership roles in Australia, as coaches, administrators, or board members.

The ASC has long been committed to progressing female leadership in sport.

'Stepping In' is an extension of the Women Leaders in Sport program which has been running since 2002 and is jointly funded by the ASC and Office for Women.

Female Board representation for the top-23 funded national sporting organisations has risen 11 per cent since 2013, currently at 38 per cent.

ASC chief executive Kate Palmer commended Victoria University for its support in further progressing female leaders in sport.

“The ASC is pleased to see growth in the professionalism of women’s sport and also the influence of women across the sporting industry, but more progress is still required to ensure women are appropriately recognised and represented in Australian sport,” Palmer said.

“Partnerships like this one with Victoria University are important because it builds on that momentum for female sport leadership in a targeted and meaningful way through advanced education.

“The ASC has proactively been driving governance reform cross sport and so it’s pleasing to see this partnership will also place an emphasis on integrity, which is a fundamental pillar of all good sport administration.”

Scholarship recipients welcome support

The two scholarship recipients welcomed the support from the ASC and VU.

Lourens said:  “As the spotlight becomes more and more intense on the values of integrity and leadership in the sporting sector, it will be an asset to be able to identify best practice in sport integrity and learn from industry experts. I am excited by what this opportunity will provide to me, but also to my contribution to the Australian sporting sector.

McMahon said: “I am most interested in learning more about how sporting organisations and programs can meet social obligations; measure social impact and return; and further eliminate barriers to participation and reduce social disadvantage.”


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Kym McMahon, National Participation Manager at Swimming Australia.

Toni Lourens, of High Performance and International Programs, Australian University Sport