Judo NSW, the state governing body of judo in New South Wales, and Pride in Sport, have been the successful recipients of an NSW Mental Health Sports Fund grant, committing to further develop and enhance the inclusion of LGBTQ+ participation across judo in regional and rural NSW. 

Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor urged NSW-based sporting bodies wanting to improve mental health and wellbeing in regional drought-stricken areas to apply for a share of a new $1.2 million Mental Health Sports Fund.

“Sporting clubs are the heart of our rural communities and this fund will assist NSW sporting bodies to work with local clubs to deliver mental health and wellbeing initiatives which suit the needs of local people,” Mrs Taylor said.

“Collectively, sporting clubs have thousands of members across regional NSW and are a great vehicle to promote mental health and wellbeing,” Mrs Taylor said.

ACON Health’s Pride in Sport program is the only sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist National and State sporting organisations and clubs with the inclusion and improved mental health and wellbeing of employees, players, coaches, volunteers and spectators with diverse genders and sexualities.

The strategic partnership between Judo NSW and Pride in Sport will allow the sport of judo to change practices and work towards a more inclusive, safe and healthy sporting environment for people with diverse sexualities and genders across regional and rural NSW.

Phil McDermott, CEO of Judo NSW, is excited about the opportunity that Pride in Sport Australia will play when helping promote positive messages and examples around LGBTQ metal health, wellbeing and inclusion.

“Judo NSW is pleased to have partnered with Pride in Sport. We aim to make judo across NSW become completely inclusive so that everyone feels welcome”, McDermott said.

While many LGBTQ+ people live happy, healthy and productive lives, there are a range of preventable mental health issues which affect a disproportionate number of people in the LGBTQ+ community compared to the general population.

LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders, three times as likely to experience affective disorders such as depression and social phobias, five times more likely to experience major depressive episodes, and up to fourteen times more likely to attempt suicide.

The project provides a new platform for mental health and inclusion initiatives for judo clubs in regional and rural areas of the state. While the challenge offers a degree of difficulty rarely confronted in regional areas, Pride in Sport will lead the delivery of dedicated LGBTQ inclusion and mental health awareness training, club resource development and a digital campaign as we approach upcoming judo seasons.  

Beau Newell, National Program Manager of Pride in Sport Australia, said actual and perceived social exclusion is a leading cause of preventable death in Australia, and creating a much healthier and safer sporting culture for LGBTQ+ people has never been more important.

“By partnering with Pride in Sport and working with ACON, Judo NSW is showing the community that they care about the mental health and wellbeing of their athletes, members, and clubs across the entire state” Newell said.

“Congratulations to Judo NSW for leading the way in changing Australia’s sporting culture, to be more inclusive.”

Pride in Sport is Australia’s first and only sexuality and gender diverse sporting inclusion program for the Australian sporting sector.