The Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI) at La Trobe
University was commissioned by Rumbalara Football Netball
Club to determine the social value of their club; a uniquely
Aboriginal run community sport club in Shepparton, Victoria.
It is important to note that this research includes the views of
people outside of the Rumbalara FNC. The research design
deliberately sought to confirm the views of club members with
people outside their club and utilised a number of existing
data sources from government agencies to establish the
social value of this club.
The social return on investment for the Rumbalara FNC
indicates that for every $1 invested in cash, volunteer time
and other resources to run the club, it generates at least
$5.45 return in social value in terms of increased social
connectedness, wellbeing, and mental health status of its
members and other community members; employment
outcomes; personal development; physical health;
Indigenous pride and support for the delivery of a range of
non-sport programs for the Indigenous communities in the
greater Shepparton region.
SROI is an increasingly accepted method for undertaking
impact assessments, especially for community focussed
organisations and has been identified by the Productivity
Commission as a comprehensive method for social impact
assessment. SROI is based on program logic – the process
of identifying the inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and
impacts associated with an organisation.
The club delivers a similar suite of sporting, social and business networking activities much like any other sports club in Australia, however, RFNC is unique in that it offers or facilitates a range of community focussed activities aimed at increasing the capacity of the Indigenous population to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. These programs range from providing financial literacy training to formal education and employment placement programs and are often delivered in partnership with other providers.
The club has unique financial and human resource challenges, arguably more challenging than most sport clubs, due to the limited internal fundraising ability of its members and a scarcity of well trained and competent volunteers to undertake key roles within the club.
RFNC is an institution with cultural authority led by Indigenous leaders; this creates an environment where programs are delivered with cultural sensitivity and over time, this has created a club that its members feel can be trusted.
Through the creation of this culturally safe space, the RFNC is able to engage at-risk population groups. By improving their capacity to deal with racial issues and increasing their pride in their cultural identity, individuals are more likely to continue their education, find employment, and are less likely to engage in criminal behaviour, substance abuse or experience social isolation. These factors lead to increased life quality and wellbeing, and potentially increased life expectancy.
The RFNC benefits the community by developing leadership and interpersonal skills of its members, transferring cultural knowledge, providing a family focussed social network, facilitating access to support services, influencing behaviour of young people, and instilling a sense of pride in individuals’ Indigenous identity.
The RFNC has played an important role in facilitating awareness and understanding of Indigenous culture and values within the Shepparton and wider regional community.
RFNC, despite being unable to secure long-term sustainable funding, is a model of a successful program designed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians because it:
takes a holistic approach and design programs specific to the context setting;
is driven in consultation with the Indigenous community and built on the Indigenous values of family, connection and culture;
empowers individuals while providing support;
partners with relevant community organisations; and
has a long-term, sustainable model which builds capacity in the community.
The RFNC has had a material impact in reducing youth suicide rates among Indigenous members of the community, improving mental health, reducing the cost to the community of delivering health services, assisted many members of the Indigenous community achieve in education and employment placement, and contributed to developing a generation of Indigenous leaders.
The RFNC continues to face some significant challenges, namely: inaccurate or misleading perceptions of its funding and resource base among other sport clubs, conflict of how to position the club as both an “average” sport club and as an Indigenous-run club, relatively poor media coverage of the benefits provided by the club, continued racism towards its members, and limited capacity to take a leadership role for cultural engagement in the future.
Natalie Hutchins MP joins club president Paul Briggs at the launch Research project by the Centre for Sport and Social Impact, Latrobe University