Count me in: promoting wellbeing and inclusion through sports participation for migrant and refugee-background young people

Count Me In is a sports participation program that offers a range of physical and psychosocial benefits. 

For refugee and migrant youth, it provides a critical mediator for achieving positive settlement and the capacity to engage meaningfully in Australian society. Participation in organised sports increases physical activity levels and physical health, and is also associated with lower levels of depression and suicidality; greater levels of psychosocial maturity, self-esteem, social connectedness and social competence; reduced involvement in antisocial activities; and higher academic outcomes. Refugee and migrant youth have low participation rates in sport however, and identified barriers include costs, discrimination and a lack of cultural sensitivity in sporting environments, a lack of knowledge of mainstream sports services on the part of refugee-background settlers, lack of access to transport, culturally determined gender norms and family attitudes.

An exploratory study has been completed which examined benefits, challenges and any shortcomings associated with different models being used in the community to encourage sports participation by refugee-background children and youth.

The aims of this project are to work in partnership with community organisations, local government and sports clubs to:

  • Pilot a model that addresses identified barriers to participation by migrant and refugee young people in a minimum of two mainstream sports clubs covering at least three different sports.  
  • Develop an evidence base to support increased participation in mainstream sports clubs by refugee and migrant young people.  
  • Assess the impact of participation on indicators of wellbeing and social inclusion  
  • Assess the impact of participation on social networks and English language acquisition Outcomes  
  • A published report, a YouTube video and academic articles based on the findings.  
  • Guidelines for stakeholders including clubs, schools, community organisations, local government  and sports governing bodies on how to implement a best practice participation model  
  • Engagement with sports governing bodies to use the evidence generated to support scaling-up of the model to a larger number of clubs, sports and sites.

Researchers

Karen Block [Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Team, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, UoM]

John Quay [Melbourne Graduate School of Education, UoM]

Dana Young [Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, UoM]

Lisa Gibbs [Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, UoM]

Research Program

Refugees and asylum seekers