Sport, Diversity & Community Development

Victoria University has consolidated its research activity.

From 2018 research of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living is located within the Institute for Sport, Health & Active Living.

The Sport, Diversity & Community Development research group investigates the meaning of sport in different contexts, with emphasis on cultural change and impacts.

Researchers study issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in sporting environments and community developments through sport and leisure.

Research focus

The group is highly interdisciplinary, consisting of members with strong research backgrounds across an array of humanities and social science disciplines. Collaborations with leading global researchers, sporting bodies and external partners attune its work to local, national and global dimensions of diversity and community development in and through sport.

Research approach

Team members use an applied research approach when exploring questions of diversity, equity and community development. Key areas of interest include:

  • meaning of sport in different cultural contexts, including change and impact
  • social and cultural influencers in sport and leisure practice
  • migration, identity and community belonging
  • sporting representations and systems
  • development of physical activity programs targeted to women
  • community building, via sport, and leisure and civic and social engagement.

Research provides the critical understanding essential to building inclusive and equitable sporting environments across diverse populations and contexts, from Australia to the Pacific, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Sport, Diversity & Community Development is led by Associate Professor Ramon Spaaij.

Research projects

Major programs of research currently in progress in the Sport, Diversity & Community Development research group include:

  • Diversity in Sport
    Managing (dis)ability, gender and cultural diversity in junior sport. Funded by Australian Research Council (Linkage Project).
    Ramon Spaaij, K Farquharson, R Jeanes, S Gorman, Dean Lusher; Partners: VicHealth, AFL, Centre for Multicultural Youth.
  • Women in Sport
    Assisting managers to recruit and retain women in community sport and physical activity programs. Funded by Australian- Malaysian Institute.
    T Morris, Clare Hanlon, S Khoo; Collaborators: University of Malaya, Women’s Sport and Recreation Australia, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation Malaysia.
  • Homophobia in Sport
    The Impact of Homophobic Bullying During Sport and PE Participation on SSAGD young Australians Depression and Anxiety Levels. Funded by Beyond Blue.
    Caroline Symons

Honours projects

View related Sport, Diversity & Community Development projects on the Sport in Society Honours projects page.

Recent publications

Recent academic and research papers published by members of the Sport Diversity & Community Development research group include:

Hanlon, C., Morris, T., Nabbs, S. (2014). "Program Provider’s Perspective: Recruitment and retention strategies for women in physical activity programs".
Sport Management Review, 17(2):133-144.

McDonald, B. (2014). "Coaching Whiteness: Stories of ‘Pacifica Exotica’ in Australian High School Rugby". Sport, Education and Society, forthcoming.

McDonald, B. (2013). "The Reproduction of Biological ‘Race’ through Physical Education Textbooks and Curriculum". European Physical Education Review, 19(2):183-198.

Spaaij, R. (2014). "Refugee Youth, Belonging and Community Sport". Leisure Studies. e-publication ahead of print, DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2014.893006.

Spaaij, R., Magee, J., Jeanes, R. (2014). "Sport and Social Exclusion in Global Society". London: Routledge.

Symons, C. (2014). "The Gay Games: A Beacon of Inclusion in Sport?" Edited by J Hargreaves and E Anderson. Routledge Handbook of Sport, Gender and Sexuality. London: Routledge.


Staff participating in the Sport, Diversity & Community Development research group include:

Students participating in the Sport, Diversity & Community Development research group include:

  • Caitlin Honey
  • Claire Jenkin
  • Tea O’Driscoll
  • Sarah Oxford
  • Jonathan Robertson
  • Kathryn Sinclair
  • Ryan Storr
  • Kate Slyvester