The Grass Skirt Project seeks to help create the cultural and societal change in Papua New Guinea necessary to improve the status and health of women through sport. Grass Skirt Project was founded with the core belief that not only can sport be used as a vehicle for social change, it also both physically and mentally beneficial at an individual level.
We partner with local organisations to deliver training, education programs and events to participating athletes and communities in Papua New Guinea. Our aim is to promote gender equality, eliminate gender-based violence (GBV), empower women and girls, and to build stronger communities around, and through, participation in sport.
We also support PNG sporting organisations and ambassadors through strategic partnerships to provide pathways into high performance sport for athletes; developing talent and creating positive role models. A number of our initiatives are unique to Grass Skirt Project; original concepts that our team have developed specifically for the social and cultural environment of PNG.
To facilitate participation in sport in PNG, Grass Skirt Project works on multiple levels to address barriers identified by communities and individuals such as:
- Lack of safe or accessible facilities
- Inability to procure appropriate equipment or clothing
- Inadequate training or skills
These gaps are addressed by:
- Collecting donated sporting equipment in Australia and providing it to PNG sports associations, clubs and grass roots initiatives
- Using social business models to establish sustainable new facilities
- Running inclusive and accessible sports events
- Providing training courses and skills workshops in communities
Continuing from our success in supporting grass roots sporting communities in PNG, the Grass Skirt Project has commenced a scheme to develop Community Centres centred on sport, with the pilot project being the Hanuabada Bese Community Centre. This Community Centre will be overseen and supported by a skilled Steering Committee made up of local people working in partnership with The Grass Skirt Project.
The pilot project, and the extended scheme, will be reliant on receiving donated equipment from Grass Skirt Project, but a social enterprise model to create sustainable long-term funding has been developed to support these initiatives.
The power of sport as a vehicle for social change has been broadly recognised and has been leveraged by numerous organisations around the world. However, the Grass Skirt Project has an innovative approach utilising a regenerative model by re-distributing pre-used sports equipment and modelling community-based operations on social enterprise, generating sustainable long-term funding for our programs and the facilities that we establish.
Gender equality is a cross-cutting theme in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and sport has shown to have both direct and indirect contributions to several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Aside from the abundant physical benefits of participating in sports, it has also been demonstrated to help create inclusive and cohesive communities by creating social capital and fostering collective identity.
Recent grass skirt project milestones include:
Procurement of 13 tonnes of donated sporting equipment ($250,000 AUD value)distributed to support sporting programs and development including:
- PNG Women’s Rugby League Team (Orchids)
- PNG International Weightlifting team members (male & female, including Morea Baru & Dika Toua)
- PNG Women’s Rugby 7’s team (Palais)
- Surfing Association of PNG (surfboards provided to new club in Autonomous Region of Bougainville)
- Grass roots level Powerlifting Clubs
- Basketball PNG community programs (Twilight Hoops & Hoops for Health)
In December 2017, Grass Skirt Project ran an Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA) Level 1 Course in Hanuabada, NCD. GSP Funded 10 participants to be certified as Level 1 coaches to support improved and continued sporting development.
By forming strategic relationships with these key coaches and assisting in continued professional development, Grass Skirt Project aims to ensure all Papua New Guineans have access to world-class coaches and trainers, at home.