WorkSafe Victoria has announced $1.2 million in new funding for the Victorian Country Football League (VCFL) over the next three years.
Announced on Saturday by WorkCover Minister Tim Holding, the increased funding will continue country football’s pivotal roll in regional Victoria.
Since 2002 WorkSafe has provided $1.65 million dollars to the VCFL to employ four full-time area managers who support training and football development, education, life skills and volunteer support programs.
On top of the $1.2 million over the next three years, WorkSafe has increased the Club Safety Fund from $10,000 a year to $60,000.
The fund gives clubs small grants to make safety improvements such as goal past padding, stretchers, helmets and improved access to buildings and clubrooms.
WorkSafe’s Executive Director, John Merritt acknowledged the VCFL’s role in delivering workplace safety messages.
“There are natural synergies with WorkSafe and the VCFL.
“Footy begins with the simple game of kick-to-kick in the backyard; workplace safety can be just as simple,” said Merritt.
“The overwhelming majority of workplace deaths and serious injuries can be prevented by taking straightforward measures at little or no cost.
Mr Merritt said along with safety inspections, the successful Safe Towns program and activities with other organisations, the VCFL sponsorship is helping save lives.
“Although six (27%) of Victoria’s 22 work-related deaths this year were in regional areas when our sponsorship began in 2002 it was 21 of 34 – 62%. This is a significant improvement that has only been achieved with strong community support.
“Our research supports the need to build links with the grass roots of our communities, with 85% of employers and employees saying our support for the VCFL reminds them to consider safety in their workplace.”
WorkSafe VCFL Chief Executive, Glenn Scott said the partnership enabled it to deliver programs that have helped country football survive.
"We are thrilled that WorkSafe is to extend its association as naming rights sponsor of the WorkSafe-VCFL.
“Over the past six years this sponsorship has been instrumental in delivering programs that have been a key factor in the continued growth of country football.
“As a direct result of WorkSafe's support, we have been able to provide a level of service and support to country football leagues and clubs that is seen as envy of many non-elite sports in Australia.
“Our partnership with WorkSafe is having a real impact, not only on football clubs but in the communities they represent" said Scott.