Cultural Diversity in Sport

Cultural Diversity in Sport         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Dr Paul Oliver, Director, Oliver and Thompson Consultancy (November 2017), Dr Andrew Bennie, Director Academic Program, Health & Physical Education, Western Sydney University (January 2018).
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated:  16 July 2018
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Community Sport Coaching
Sport Australia


Australia is often described as a culturally diverse, or multicultural, country. It is home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples), but has also embraced significant levels of migration throughout its more recent history.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS):

  • 28.5% of Australian were born overseas;
  • Almost 50% of Australians have parents born in other countries; 
  • Over 260 languages are spoken; 
  • Almost 20% of Australians have some form of a disability; 
  • Up to 11 in 100 Australians may have a diverse sexual orientation, sex, or gender identity; and
  • Just over half of our population are female.

[sources: ABS: 3235.0 - Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2015 (August 2016); 3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2015-16 (March 2017); 4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia:Summary of Findings, 2015 (October 2016), Face the facts: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People statistics, Australian Human Rights Commission infographic, (2014).]

Sport and physical activity play an important role in our communities by promoting social inclusion and community well-being. However, sport can also promote exclusion and place unnecessary barriers to greater community participation.

Key Messages 


Australia has a diverse multicultural population and sport participation in many of its regions reflects this diversity.


Sport can be used for positive social change—it can help build more inclusive, healthier, happier, and safer communities.


Sporting organisations and sports clubs should continually seek to identify barriers that may preclude people from participating in their sport.


More inclusive practices in sports can assist with growing the participant base and in improving community physical, social, mental, and spiritual health and well-being.

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