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Panel Event: Better Out Than In Panel Event

La Trobe University, the AFLPA and Beyondblue present research and individual stories of courage at an exclusive panel event aimed at reducing the stigma around discussing men’s mental health.

Moderated by: Nick Dal Santo, 300 game ex-AFL player

Panel: Andrew Thorpe (Beyondblue), Dr Paul O’Halloran (La Trobe University), Jake Edwards (Outside The Locker Room).

Tea and coffee provided at the conclusion of the panel discussion.

Panel Event

Date: Thu. 27 July 2017

Time: 10am – 11:30am

Venue: Odeon Room, La Trobe University, Melbourne Campus, Plenty Road, Melbourne.

Register: Please register via Eventbrite.

La Trobe Business School Sport Management student Rebecca Privitelli ready to tackle on and off-field career

La Trobe Business School Sport Management student, Rebecca Privitelli, is rising to prominence throughout Melbourne’s Northern suburbs by cashing in on a huge month in women’s sport.

The 21 year old will be competing in the inaugural AFLW competition in 2017, after being selected by Carlton with pick 142 in the national draft on October 12th this year.

She rounded out her exciting month by being named the first ever head coach of the Northern Knights Football Club women’s team on October 21st.

During this busy period Privitelli still found the time to continue her studies and complete her 120 hours placement at Ikon Park through La Trobe’s partnership with the Carlton Football club.

Speaking to La Trobe Sport earlier this year, Privitelli said growing up ‘she always had a passion for the sport’.

“My biggest dream was to become one of the first women to play in the AFL,” she said. “My love for the sport developed as I started playing and coaching, however I felt like there was an aspect of the game I was yet to be involved in.”

For Privitelli, this turned out to be working in the code she loved and getting vital exposure to the sport industry through her internship at Carlton.

Privitelli gets active during placement.

“Once I completed high school, I received my first job in football which primarily focused on development of the game at the grassroots level.  It was through this opportunity that I realised that a degree in Sports Management was a way I could transform my passion for AFL into a career in the industry.”

Choosing where to complete that Sports Management degree was not a decision Privitelli took lightly, hoping to balance her busy lifestyle while maximising her opportunities to become career-ready post degree.

“La Trobe stood out to me as the clear choice as they had the most extensive options for Sports Management.  The university also appealed to me as they were able to support my commitments as a footballer through the La Trobe Elite Athlete Program.”

“As I neared the end of my second year at La Trobe, placement options were at the forefront of my mind and when I was given the chance to undertake my placement at the Carlton Football Club I knew it was the moment I had been waiting for.”

“I was lucky to be offered a role at the club as a Community Outreach Officer along with nine other La Trobe students.”

The students’ responsibilities as Community Outreach Officers included being responsible for creating authentic experiences for fans and creating a sense of belonging for the community by delivering the Community and Diversity programs.

Privitelli (front left) with fellow students, Carlton Staff and Sport Management co-ordinator Pam Kappelides at Ikon Park.

“I’ve had the opportunity to assist a range of people both internal and external to the club, building my network of industry professionals in the process.”

This network includes students and teachers within the Northern corridor, people within communities from different cultural backgrounds and people involved in the women’s AFL academy.”

Privitelli feels that the experience gained throughout the internship, along with the knowledge gained from her degree has equipped her to to start a successful career in the sport industry.

“The experience gained throughout my placement has significantly enhanced my communication and leadership skills.”

“Everything I have learnt throughout my placement in conjunction with the knowledge gained from my degree at La Trobe University leaves me feeling like I can enter the workforce with confidence.”

“I can now complete my degree with the belief that I am well positioned to tackle any challenge that comes my way.”

This article was originally published on the La Trobe University internships blog.

A New Beginning for Women in Sport?

By Merryn Sherwood

2015 was declared a watershed year for women in sport. The Matildas barnstorming run at the 2015 Women’s FIFA World Cup. The Australian Diamonds triumphant win in the Netball World Cup in front of a world-record crowd. The Southern Stars held the No.1 ranking for all three forms of the game. Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup. However, the doubters questioned whether it would stick.

But in 2016 the momentum continued. The highest-rating Saturday night AFL game in Melbourne was the women’s exhibition match at Whitten Oval. Cricket NSW announced that the Breakers would be the first domestic Australian women’s team to be fully professional. In 2017, Australia will welcome a new Australian netball league with a salary cap of $675,000 for 10 players, and a brand new AFL league for women.

But is the rise of women’s sport opportunity, or opportunism? Are sports organisations coming around to the idea that they should provide equal opportunities for female athletes, or is it simply good business sense to do so? This was the topic of a panel at this year’s Sports Writers Festival. The consensus was it’s probably a bit of both.

A panel that included broadcaster and documentary maker Angela Pippos, former SBS Zela editor Danielle Warby, Age sports editor Chloe Saltau and freelance journalist Karen Lyon – hosted by Lynn Haultain – discussed several reasons why women’s sport was booming.

These included that more women are playing more sport than ever before, and within that contact has been normalised and even admired. Alongside this, there the suggestion that sports organisations have realised that there is an audience for women’s sport.

Put simply the key triggers appear to be that more women are playing sport, many of them in traditionally male dominated fields, and more sports fans are enjoying watching them. Saltau noted that this led to a situation where there is an “arms race” for female athletes. Major sporting codes suddenly aren’t just providing opportunities for women to play, they have been trying to outbid each other to become the sport of choice for women at the elite level. Suddenly, there has never been more value in women’s sport.

But as a sports journalism lecturer and sports media researcher, one of the most interesting points in the panel for me was the recognition that the sports media narrative around women’s sport is changing. Historically sports media has trivialised women and coverage was often sexualised.

Some of my previous research in this area found though that Australian journalists and editors had started to question these news values. For example, a journalist said this about stories on women’s sport:

“You know, a lot of the editorial decisions you see here are made on instinct, thinking we want to see Sharapova in a pretty dress, we want to see those sorts of images and those sorts of stories in the paper but, is that what people are genuinely interested in?”

The consensus in the room at the Sports Writers Festival would suggest the landscape has moved forward again. In fact, the panel noted that “that Sam Newman way” of seeing the world is shrinking. Instead, we are seeing thoughtful stories about players with thoroughly interesting backgrounds, such as Moana Hope and Susan Alberti.

There is still be work to done. The panel noted an important step in adding legitimacy to coverage of women’s sport is to include female commentators and experts in it. But generally, there was a feeling that the ongoing professionalism of women’s sport is starting to be reflected in its coverage.

As Angela Pippos aptly noted on the panel, “I’ve spent a few months thinking wow, I’m going to see change in my lifetime.” While Pippos was at the time talking about the chance for women to earn living wages playing sport, it’s also applicable to the representation of female athletes in the media.

You can listen to the entire panel, here.


Merryn Sherwood is a member of the Centre for Sport and Social Impact, and coordinates the Sports Journalism major in the Bachelor of Media and Communication. La Trobe University is a partner of the Sports Writers Festival.


LBS’s Liam Lenten featured on ABC’s Radio 666 Canberra discussing the Brownlow Medal

 Liam Lenten Sports La Trobe Business School Federal Election

Recently, Dr Liam Lenten was featured on ABC’s Radio 666 Canberra, talking about his research on the voting process in the AFL’s Brownlow Medal (the ‘Best and Fairest’ award). In his research, Dr Liam Lenten analysed how umpires vote and whether they have any biases.

During the segment, Dr Lenten says he became motivated to test for how Indigenous players draw votes from umpires early on in the project – a time at which there were a number of unsavoury incidents involving adverse fan behaviour (particularly) towards now-retired Sydney star Adam Goodes.

‘As economists, we are interested in voting biases whenever and wherever they occur, as they violate the notion of pure rationality. There are many examples in the literature involving data from various competitive environments, including many from sports, but also political elections, and even song contests such as Eurovision or Idol’, Dr Lenten says.

In this case, he employs econometric modelling and regression techniques, as well as a comprehensive database of over 100,000 player-within-match observations, in all of the 2,288 home-and-away AFL matches from 1998-2010.

Lenten says ‘…when I compared the number of votes between groups, Indigenous players quantitatively poll 6.6% more average votes per match than non-Indigenous players – this difference was statistically significant, but only weakly so’.

He qualifies this by saying that this alone does not imply a voting bias: “The comparison does not account for various factors, which could be driving the result. One possible explanation is that the pool of Indigenous players in the AFL is simply drawn from a higher-distribution of talent than non-Indigenous players. Aspiring Indigenous footballers are more likely to be from regional and remote areas, consistent with being at an elite-level recruitment disadvantage.”

According to Lenten, if this explanation is true, then such differences in talent levels should be picked up by using player performance measures. Specifically, he uses a range of 13 well-known player-level match statistics; such as kicks, handballs, goals scored, and tackles.

The model results show that controlling for player performance explains most (but not quite all) of the difference in average votes awarded. Indigenous players still poll approximately 1.2% more votes than non-indigenous players.

Is this remaining difference evidence that umpires unfairly give more votes to Indigenous players? As a former 200-game umpire himself (at suburban level), Dr Lenten is open to this possibility, but not committal.

‘There could be other productive actions off the ball for which Indigenous players outperform their contemporaries that are not captured within the statistics I use, yet are nonetheless noticed by umpires’. Also, he says: ‘…with respect to goals, it may be that Indigenous players often kick goals with higher degrees of difficulty, which would imply that not all goals have the same vote impact’.

Listen to the full fragment on the ABC website, here (Dr Liam Lenten speaks around the 3:26:00 mark).

La Trobe University & Carlton Football Club join forces for a unique partnership


La Trobe University is pleased to announce a partnership with Carlton Football Club, focusing on a range of initiatives including collaborative research, student internships, professional development, and school and community outreach programs. Professor Russell Hoye, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Development) & Director, La Trobe Sport, and Professor in La Trobe Business School, signed the paperwork with Carlton CEO Steven Trigg last week.

“This partnership is a wonderful opportunity for us to share our sporting research knowledge in a practical, ongoing way,” Professor Hoye said

To read the full announcement, please refer to official Carlton Football Club website.

LBS’s Catherine Ordway comments on WADA Report on 666 ABC Radio Canberra


On 28 April 2016, LBS Professor of Practice Catherine Ordway was featured on 666 ABC Radio Canberra’s Drive. Catherine commented on Australia’s appearance in WADA’s report as one of the top ten global offenders for doping in 2014.

Listen to Catherine speak (2:14:00) in the full fragment on ABC radio’s website.

Leading La Trobe researchers comment on ongoing impacts of Essendon case

On the evening of 21 March 2016, Professor Patrick Keyzer appeared on the ABC’s Four Corners, to comment on 22 year-old Hal Hunter’s case against Essendon Football Club.  Hunter played at Essendon during the now notorious Essendon supplements scandal.  Patrick Keyzer is a Professor of Law at La Trobe University, but is representing Hal Hunter in his private capacity as a barrister.

Hal Hunter played for Essendon for two years before being de-listed in 2013. After his parents’ attempts to get information from the club were ignored, Hal decided to seek pre-litigation disclosure from Essendon and the AFL.  After eighteen months of delays Hal got his day in court in October last year.  The Supreme Court ordered the AFL to produce over one hundred documents for Hal and his legal and medical team to consider.  The Supreme Court did not order Essendon to produce any documents because, the day before the hearing, Essendon’s lawyer swore an affidavit that Essendon had told him that they had provided all of the relevant documents they had.  Notwithstanding their representations to the Court, which they relied on successfully when they sought a costs order against Hunter in February, Essendon sent further documents to Hunter just last week.  Keyzer was reported on 3AW Radio yesterday and advised that if Essendon did not agree to a reversal of the costs order that Hunter would have no choice but to return to Court and point out to the judge that the affidavit sworn by Essendon’s lawyer in October was no longer accurate.

“They’re treating it like an issue that will just go away,” Hal Hunter said on Four Corners, “but for me, if I’m not going to get the answers to the questions I’m asking, it’s never going to go away.”

Through the program, Essendon players were injected with unknown substances repeatedly, sometimes on off-site locations. When asked about the risks of these substances Dr Peter Brukner OAM, who is a specialist sports and exercise physician, media commentator, and Honorary Professor of Sports Medicine at La Trobe University, explains that the risk lies in the fact that they are unregistered:

“What people sometimes don’t realise is that the Essendon scandal doesn’t revolve around supplements, but actual unregistered drugs. This means that these drugs aren’t tested and long-term effects or harmful side-effects are largely unknown. To someone like Hal Hunter, the unknown nature of these drugs is understandably distressful, and Essendon should do anything within its power to provide this clarity to its players.”

LBS sports academic, Dr Emma Sherry, whose research focusses on sports and athlete welfare and sport and the community, is happy to see the narrative of the Essendon trial shift to the health of individual players.

“Often in instances of doping, the focus is on the fact that athletes were cheating, rather than the health risk any unregistered drugs may impose. But for these 34 players, their sense of control has been taken away from them, when it comes to their health. When they get sick in the future, they will never be certain whether this development is a long-term side-effect from this unregistered drug, or whether it would’ve happened regardless. Basically, they have been exposed to a human clinical trial, without giving their consent.”


Essendon obtains costs order from Hal Hunter

Catherine Ordway Alistair Twigg Snedden Hall & Gallop La Trobe Law School
By Allistar Twigg [1] and Catherine Ordway [2]

In the drawn out process leading to a decision as to whether Hal Hunter decides to sue the Essendon Football Club or the AFL or both (or neither), the Victorian Supreme Court made a formal costs order against Hunter in favour of Essendon in respect of an interlocutory matter. At this stage, the parties have been involved in just the one specific legal issue for nearly 18 months: that of pre-action discovery.

Hunter played with Essendon as a rookie for nearly two years until he was cut and de-listed (and departed Essendon and the AFL) in September 2013. During that period, he was allegedly involved in the now notorious controversy referred to as the ‘supplements program’.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport found 34 Essendon players guilty of using performance enhancing drugs as part of the supplements program. Hunter was not among them.

As a consequence of that same supplements program, Essendon Football Club pleaded guilty to significant workplace breaches and was fined $200,000.

Now Hunter is concerned about his health and wants to know what the consequences of the supplements program are to him. So Hunter and his lawyers want access to all the supplements program documents held by the AFL and Essendon in order to see if he has a case and, if so, whom he should sue. He is doing this by way of pre-action discovery.

Pre-action discovery, which may be granted at the discretion of the court where the ends of justice require, differs from ordinary discovery in litigation, which is an entitlement.

Lengthy and somewhat testy correspondence about the supplements program documents between the parties’ lawyers over a year or so culminated in an application by Hunter for a formal order for pre-action discovery heard by The Honourable Associate Justice Mukhtar in October last year. His Honour found that Essendon had by then handed over every document it had relating to the supplements program.

As a result, on Wednesday 10 February, Essendon applied for and was granted an order for its costs of that October hearing which will likely be of the order of tens of thousands of dollars Notably, however, Essendon will receive no costs for any of its work in the eighteen months leading up to the day before the hearing. The judge formed the view that the late provision of an affidavit by Essendon disqualified it from receiving all of its costs. .

Essendon has been quoted over the last few years as vowing to look after the players involved in the supplements saga. Obtaining an order for costs against one of them seems directly contradictory to this.

The discovery of only a handful of documents by Essendon indicates that record-keeping during the supplements scandal was not a high priority. Yet there are a substantial number of authorities that indicate that poor record-keeping is reflection of negligent practice. Furthermore, a clause in the tripartite contract between players, the AFL and AFL clubs imposes a duty on the AFL and clubs to advance the welfare of the player. It would be impossible to argue that this duty was fulfilled during the supplements scandal.

Essendon and the AFL should take steps to settle this matter, and the other cases that have emerged among the Essendon and former Essendon players caught up in the supplements scandal. In the short term, taking steps to enforce a costs order against a now seemingly struggling ex-player, is not a step in this direction.

[1] Catherine Ordway is a Professor of Practice in La Trobe Business School, specialising in sport management and a Senior Consultant at Snedden Hall & Gallop.

[2] Allistar Twigg is a Sports Lawyer at Snedden Hall & Gallop, and has been involved in the sports industry for more than fifty years.


LBS Professors of Practice: How to develop effective representative boards

Catherine Ordway Michael Wildenauer Governance La Trobe Business School

Recently, La Trobe Business School’s Professors of Practice Michael Wildenauer and Catherine Ordway attended the 32nd National Conference of Contemporary Governance, where they conducted a workshop on ‘The Challenges of Representative Boards’.

The workshop, aimed at an audience of governance professionals including lawyers, corporate secretaries and board members, mostly consisted of attendees who currently worked on or with representative boards, keen to discuss challenges they faced, and strategies they could develop to confront those challenges.

“Most of the members attending came from a governance background with years of experience.” Michael Wildenauer says. “In that context, there isn’t anything new I would be able to teach them about how boards worked and what is required of them as directors. But what we could do was present them some really relevant research findings to spark a discussion, identify challenges in representative boards across sectors to see what they may have in common, and how these challenges could be overcome.”

“When you are a member of a representative board, elected or appointed” Michael explains, “it is important to remember that you are representing more than just your constituents. The board is responsible as a whole for every decision the governing body makes.” According to Michael, there are numerous factors that contribute to a well-functioning board, some structural and many cultural. One of the big issues is diversity, both on the board itself and within subcommittees.

Representative boards structurally create the opportunity for some diversity through providing a seat at the table for particular interests. While this structural diversity is important, as Michael explained, the workshop also explored the need: “to ensure that there is diversity within the various ‘factions’ on representative boards. For example, if all the employer appointed directors on a superannuation trustee board are 60 year old males and the union appointed directors are 35 year old women, the ‘us vs them’ dynamic can be very powerful. Furthermore, if boards have a token member from a diverse group, it’s possible that this token member will not have the confidence to speak up if they feel isolated. Or maybe they will speak, but they may not be heard.” For these reasons, Catherine Ordway points to the significant amount of research that supports that idea that a board that better represents the community in terms of gender and the range of education, culture, language, religious and life experiences can assist in: “more robust, creative and innovative decision-making”.

Other factors influencing the efficiency of a leadership board can be more straightforward, such as the size of the group and length of tenure. If there are too many directors, it creates room for passive members, who want to join a board for prestige purposes, but don’t necessarily play an active role in the board’s deliberations. Catherine’s experience with sports boards echoes this and she believes that: “the current scandals at the international level in tennis, football, the AFL and athletics relate back to self-interested board members who fail to put the organisation’s interests before their own”. Michael agrees: “A lot of the feedback we received from workshop attendees did relate to size and to long tenure. When attendees were asked to map out the challenges they encountered on sheets of butcher’s paper, the same topics resurfaced again and again. The group was very engaged in discussions around overcoming these challenges, and were very keen to share their own ideas and listen to those of others. That’s a good start.”

Catherine Ordway discussing Essendon Football Club supplements case on ABC Radio


Recently, Sports Management specialist and La Trobe Business School Professor of Practice Catherine Ordway, was featured on the ABC Radio news speaking about the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the Essendon supplements case.

You can listen to Catherine on the ABC website.

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