Sport: social glue and force for change?

A La Trobe University forum is exploring the impact of sport on Australian society and communities.

Mick Malthouse, AFL coach and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University, will join La Trobe University Professor Russell Hoye and sports lawyer and ex-Olympic rower Margot Foster to debate these questions at an Ideas and Society panel discussion on Monday 14 April 2014.

The panel will be chaired by Professor Robert Manne, convenor of the Ideas and Society program.

‘Nelson Mandela believed that sport had the power to change the world,’ Professor Manne said. ‘Fifty years on, what role does sport play in Australian society and communities?’

‘With a coach, a sports lawyer and a sports academic on the panel, the event will explore very different perspectives on the topic,’ Professor Manne said.

Professor Hoye, Director of the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at La Trobe University, said sport has long been considered central to the Australian psyche.

‘Sport has been seen as the “social glue” that binds our communities,’ Professor Hoye said. 

‘It has also been seen as unique in providing an environment for building character, resilience and leadership for individuals.

‘This panel will explore whether these claims still ring true in Australia,’ Professor Hoye said. 

‘Is sport still important for Australians? How do we know? Does playing sport bring people together or are some members of society excluded? Does being involved in sport build character?’

Event details

What: Ideas and Society panel event: Sport and Life

When: Monday 14 April 2014, 12.30pm – 2.00pm

Where: John Scott Meeting House, La Trobe University, Bundoora

Attendance: All welcome, no RSVP required

Webcast: Watch live or after the event

Social media: Follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #ideasandsociety

Media contact

Suzi Macbeth, Media and Communications Officer

+ 61 3 9479 5353 |


Mick Malthouse is the current AFL head coach for the Carlton Football Club and former premiership winning player for the Richmond Football Club and coach for both the West Coast Eagles and Collingwood Football Clubs. 2014 sees him enter his 30th year of coaching at the highest level. In this time he coached the West Coast Eagles to their first ever premiership win in 1992, backing it up in 1994 with another premiership. He also took Collingwood Football Club to 4 Grand Finals including the 2010 AFL Premiership. Mick Malthouse is currently a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at La Trobe University.

Margot Foster is a lawyer by profession, an oarswoman by sporting background and a sports administrator by way of light relief. She competed in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, winning bronze and gold medals in 1984 and 1986 respectively. She has been in private practice as a lawyer throughout this time and has had, and continues to have, numerous roles on sporting and other bodies. These have included the Australian Olympic Committee, International Rowing Federation Masters Committee, Melbourne 1996 Olympic Bid, Australian Sports Commission, New Zealand Sports Commission and Gymnastics Australia. Margot is currently the Chair of Vicsport and a board member of VicHealth, amongst other involvements. Margot does not coach as she knows she is temperamentally unsuited to such a role and leaves coaching to people like Mick Malthouse.

Russell Hoye is the Director of La Trobe Sport and of the Centre for Sport and Social Impact. His areas of expertise include corporate governance, volunteer management, public policy and the role of social capital in non-profit organisations. Russell is the editor of the Sport Management Series produced by Routledge, past President of the Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor of Politics and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University. He is a leading public intellectual and commentator and is the author of Making Trouble: Essays against the New Australian Complacency (published 2011), Left, Right, Left: Political Essays 1977 – 2005 and three Quarterly Essays, most recently Bad News.