Professor Caroline Symons is an honorary professor in sport at VU.

Caroline is an authority in the area of gender, sexuality and sport studies and has been a recipient of a number of research awards in this field including the national sport history prize for her book, The Gay Games: A history (2011) and as the lead researcher on Come Out To Play: the sporting experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Victorians, which won the 2010 Vichealth Professor David Hill award for knowledge and translation.

She is currently a principal investigator on three major research projects in Australian sport:

  • A Victorian-wide longitudinal study of girls, sport and physical activity
  • Women in leadership positions in Australian sport and,
  • The first study of the sporting and physical education experiences of same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people in Australia.

Research grants

Symons, C, Borkoles, E, Andersen M and Polman, R, (2011) BeyondBlue Victorian Centre of Excellence in Depression, Anxiety and Related Disorders: The Impact of Homophobic Bullying During Sport and Physical Education Participation on Same-Sex Attracted and Gender Questioning Young Australian's Depression and Anxiety Levels", $125,000. – Category A Grant 

Symons, C and Mitchell A (2009) Come Out To Play. The LGBT sport experience in Victoria. Funded by the peak health promotion organisation in Victoria – Vic Health, VU and the Asia Pacific Outgames Legacy Fund ($25,000 over one year)

Symons, C. and Craike, M. (2007) Sport and Recreation Victoria's Women in Sport Funding Program and matching Victoria University funding ($120,000 – over three years): 'Young Women's Participation in Physical Activity at Transitional Life Stages'.

Symons, C. and Marchant, D. (2007) Sport and Recreation Victoria's Women in Sport Funding Program ($60,000 over three years): 'Overcoming Barriers for Women Sport Coaches, Officials and Administrators'

Recent publications


Symons, C., (2010) Gay Games: A History. Routledge Critical Sports Studies Series, London: Routledge.

Hemphill, D. and Symons, C. (Eds.) (2002) Gender, Sexuality and Sport: A Dangerous Mix Sydney: Walla Walla Press.

Book chapters

Symons, C (2013 - In press) The Gay Games: A beacon of inclusion in sport? in (Eds. Hargreaves, J and Anderson, E) Routledge Handbook of Sport, Gender and Sexuality, Routledge: London.

Symons, C and Klugman, M, (2013 - In press) The silence after the storm: Australian Rules Football and sexuality, in (Eds. Reynolds, R, Featherstone, L),  Cambridge Scholarly Press: Cambridge.

Krane, V and Symons C (2013 - In press) Gender and sexual orientation, in (Ed Papaioannou, A and Hackfort, J) Fundamental Concepts in Sport and Exercise Psychology, Taylor and Francis: New York

Symons, C. (2012 - In press) Community, Place and Expression at the Gay Games, in Sartore-Baldwin (Ed), Sexual Stigma in Sport, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Sundstrom, L, Marchant, D and Symons, C., (2011) 'Play, But Don't Stay: Women Leaders in Australian Sport', in Burke, M., Hanlon, C, Hess, R and Thomen, C (Eds), Sport, Culture and Society: Approaches, Methods and Perspectives, Melbourne: Maribyrnong Press, pp.107-26

Refereed publications

Craike, M.J., Polman, R., Eime, R., Symons, C., Harvey, J., & Payne, W. (In press) The influence of physical activity behavior regulation on physical activity and perceived health for adolescent females. Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Eime, R., Harvey, J., Craike, M., Symons, C., Polman, R., Payne, W. Understanding the context of the decline in female adolescent participation in physical activity. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (In press)

Craike, M., Eime, R., Symons, C., Harvey, J., Payne, W. (2011) Factors influencing participation in physical activity for metropolitan and rural adolescent girls: A comparative study. Annals of Leisure Research, Nov 14 (4): 355-368

Hemphill, D and Symons, C. (2009) ' Sexuality Matters in Sport and Physical Education – QUEST  61: 397-417

Craike, C, Symons, C and Zimmerman, J. (2009) 'Why do adolescent girls drop out of sport and physical activity. A Social Ecological Approach' Annals of Leisure Research, Vol. 12. No. 2, pp. 149-172.

Technical and major research reports

Eime, R.M, Harvey, J.T, Symons, C.M, Craike, M. J, Sawyer, N. A, Moore, M, Polman, R, Payne, W. (2012) Factors influencing participation in physical activity and sport by adolescent females: A report to Sport and Recreation Victoria, ISEAL, Victoria University and University of Ballarat

Sundstrom, L, Marchant, D and Symons, C. (2012) Clearing Hurdles: women in elite sport leadership, a report for Sport and Recreatin Victoria, ISEAL, Victoria University.

Symons, C, Sbaraglia, M, Hillier, L and A Mitchell (2010) 'Come Out To Play'. The LGBT sport experience in Victoria, Currency Productions, Brunswick. 

Published/accepted conference abstracts

Krane, V., Symons, C, Griffin, P,. Demers, G., 'Are we there yet?" International perspectives on LGBT inclusion in sport, Panel presentation at the ICSEMIS 2012, Glasgow, Scotland, 19-23 July (pre-Olympic sport conference).

Symons, C. (2012). Gay Games 1: Transformative Sporting Visions, or Conservative Mainstreaminng foundations? After Homosexual: Legacies of Gay Liberation, 2-4 February, Victoria University Flinders St, Melbourne, Australia.

Symons, C., Hartung, B., Gourlay, P., and Fletcher, G. (2011) "Fair Go, Sport! A Game of Four Quarters", Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, 23-25 November, MCG Melbourne.

Sundstrom, L., Marchant, D,. and Symons, C. (2011) " Women leaders in sport: the Australian Situation in an international context, Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, 23-25 November, MCG Melbourne.

Sundstrom, L., Marchant, D., and Symons, C. (2011) "Women in elite-level sport leadership: Coaches, officials and administrators, Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, 23-25 November, MCG Melbourne.

Research leadership activities

Conference Organsing Committee (2012) After Homosexual: The Legacy of Gay Liberation, Victoria University, Melbourne, 3-4 February.

Convenor (2011) Developing the Field: The Inaugural School of SES and ISEAL Honours and Postgraduate Symposium, Flinders St campus of VU, Melbourne, 26 September.

Conference Organising Committee member: 2nd International Symposium for Collaboration in Research, Teaching and Exchange between Victoria University, the German Sport University and the University of Western Ontario, 7-9 April.

Co-Convenor (2010) Developing the Field: Sport and Culture Group Postgraduate Symposium, Melbourne 28 October.

Co-Convenor (2010) Worlds of Football Conference, Melbourne 28 – 29 September

Areas of expertise

  • Active living
  • Australian rules football (AFL)
  • Event management in sport and recreation
  • Gender
  • girls and sport
  • Sexualities and sports studies
  • sport and physical activity

Contact details