Chicks Talking Footy: A conversation with Fiona and Bree from Joy 94.9 FM – Podcast Episode 14

In this podcast Rebecca Dahl and Sally Nicholes of Nicholes Family Lawyers speak with Fiona and Bree from “Chicks Talking Footy” on Joy 94.9 FM an independent radio station for the diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities in Victoria.

The Chicks Talking Footy team are broadcasting pioneers, broadcasting live at all official AFL and AFLW Pride Games since 2016, giving a voice to LGBTIQA+ players and supporters. They have also lead the way helping develop LGBTIQA+ inclusion policies at AFL Clubs and stadiums around Australia.

In this podcast Fiona and Bree talk about life in isolation during COVID-19, the importance of the footy community to bring us together and about how we’re all excited for footy to come back on the field.

 

Bec:

Welcome everyone to the Nicholes Family Lawyers Podcast. I am Rebecca Dahl, a partner in Nicholes Family Lawyers and I am joined today by Sally Nicholes, our Managing Partner. Today we are speaking with Fiona and Bree from Chicks Talking Footy on Joy 94.9.
Joy 94.9 is an independent radio station for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities in Victoria. The Chicks Talking Footy team has been broadcasting weekly on Joy 94.9 since 2016.

They have broken new ground in the reporting of AFLW and AFL. They have been broadcasting pioneers with live shows at all official AFL and AFLW pride games since 2016. At a critical juncture in AFL and AFLW history, they have given a voice to transgender players and supporters and helped develop LGBTIQ inclusion policies at AFL clubs and stadiums around Australia. The Chicks Talking Footy team has also helped promote all the sixteen LGBTIQ supporter groups of the AFL clubs.

Welcome Fiona and Bree, it is great to have you on our podcast.

Bree:

Thanks for having us.

Fiona:

Absolute pleasure.

Bec:

Do you think I need to do an announcement at the start that I am also a member of the Chicks Talking Footy?

Bree:

Yes.

Fiona:

Yes. You need to disclose.

Bree:

I was just supposed to tell you because a “stalker” is here too.

Bec:

That is right. That is Sally Nicholes. So I feel like we have disclose our affinity now. But look, Fi and Bree, everyone we had been talking to, we have asked them how their experience is in isolation so far. Why don’t we start with you, Bree, and tell us what you have been doing?

Bree:

Well I am working from home full-time. So I have managed to get into a routine, like a daily routine, which I am proud about because it has helped me focus and keep me productive while we can sometimes fall into a lull. I have been out on my bike every morning, enjoying our surrounding area. Yeah. I have embraced it. I have enjoyed my time at home. It has been a positive experience so far.

Bec:

What about you, Fi?

Fiona:

Well I initially went through a lot of trauma because I run the Fitzroy Market and I also do corporate training. So I literally had about ten days’ notice to shut -down two flourishing businesses and collectively with myself and my partner, we lost about eighty percent of our income. Once I got through the grief and trauma of that and realised that there would be government support and we would get through, there was a part of me that was a little bit relieved that life had slowed down a bit for a little while. I have been able to spend time with our family, read books, just catch up on life a little bit, take a breath.

We also have a young child, though, so it is certainly not sleeping until ten or eleven o’clock and binging on Netflix for us. He’s actually flourished in isolation because he is loving the attention of both of his parents full-time. He nailed toilet training in three days. We just have to be creative with activities because we cannot go to playgrounds, and places like the museum are shut and all of that sort of thing. But plenty of treasure hunts and scooter excursions and that kind of thing. We are doing okay.

Bec:

Well it sounds like you both are winning in isolation.

Sally:

It is amazing to hear from you, Fiona, because it is… one of your specialties is actually at organizational functions and helping people get themselves organized in a corporate sense. Did you find that you put on that hat for yourself at home and would need to regroup and recalibrate?

Fiona:

Yeah, well I have been working from home part-time probably for six or seven years. So I love working from home and I think just having the ability to control time and productivity is actually a lot greater at home if you are self-motivated. There is also lots of room for procrastination and other forms of interruption particularly if you are home-schooling and have other members of your family home at the same time as when you are trying to get work done.

Sally:

Oh yes.

Fiona:

But I have been running webinars on productive work from home and adapted. I have had to sort of adapt some of the training to online. It is certainly not something that is going to replace face-to-face training, I think, long term but we have been delivering some training on how to be productive at home, how to run online meetings because everyone suddenly having to jump on things like Zoom, see their colleague’s lounge rooms and try to meet that way, which has its own challenges as well. I certainly had to put that hat on.

Bec:

We have to talk about one of the hardest things that we have been going through in isolation and that is the loss of the footy. It has been, I think at last count, six weeks I think, since we have seen a footy game. What are you missing most about that?

Bree:

I will go first. I am missing just the walk from Jolimont Station down to the MCG. I know it is like those incidental things that you previously took for granted but meeting up with friends prior to the game, walking to the ground, things like that. Also, just being present. Like there are only so many past football games you can watch. I am just missing something to talk about, like a conversation starter. They are the things that immediately jump to mind for me.

Fiona:

For me, other than watching games, because it does consume a lot of time on the weekends, particularly when they go from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon. Visiting grounds and doing a lot of that sort thing, for me it is the friendships around that. I think sport really does fast-track relationships. I mean how many of us have hugged complete strangers when our teams won the game or Australia has won something. It is a great conversation starter at a party. Rachel Hopkins who is on the Chicks Talking Footy team…we met at a dinner party, and once we found out we were both Hawk supporters as well, that was a lifelong friendship in the making within five minutes.

For me, it is that, it is the connection, it is the friendships, it is the catching up before games, it is all the things we talk about all week long. Also, during the radio, the footy tipping, the radio show that we do together, that is just something that we have created over a long period of time. The stories we get to tell through that, you know, we have had to put that on hold to some extent as well. Yeah, missing a whole section of our lives.

Bec:

Yeah. It is funny you touched on that, Fi. I mean it has definitely tested our friendship, hasn’t it? We’ve got to find out if we’ve got other things to talk about besides footy. But I guess you mentioned one of the-

Fiona:

Could have been awkward.

Bec:

That is right. One of the things that I really love about the show is some of those stories that we get to tell. And I wonder whether both of you wanted to touch on, I guess, some of those things that we do get to tell, the people that we get to meet and the footy that we get to bring to people. Bree, did you want to go?

Bree:

Yeah, I will start on that. That is probably the number one thing that I love about our radio show is the people that we have gotten to meet and the networks that we have created. Just being able to have access to people and getting to know, particularly the women in the AFLW because they have real conversations. You can ask them anything and there is nothing off there, out of bounds and because there has been no football and players had been stood down or they are away from the club, it is more difficult to get in touch with those players. We have not been able to reconnect with those people.

It is definitely an aspect that I am missing about our shows you know, reaching out and having those conversations with our players. And with fans of the game because having the crowds, we would often get the microphone out and talk to vox pops and get some feedback about their experience at the games. We have not been able to do that either.

Sally:

Being such a fan of your show…..

Fiona:

Number one ticket holder Sally. Number one ticket holder.

Sally:

Look, I feel I am, but I know there are lots of contenders for it. I have such a passion for it and you have won numerous awards and so well-deservedly, because I feel that you bring not only through community radio, you do it all in an honorary capacity and giving up your time but you are also focusing on the LGBTIQ plus community and women as well with the AFLW.

Do you now have time to look back or reflect upon what influence the show has had on the community? Can you talk about… a little bit about the impact for someone that might be listening to us for the first time? Do you ever want to tune in and just talk about some of the achievements? I know not in a gloating sense….more I know in retrospect looking back at it, is there anything that really stands out that you think that the show has highlighted really successfully because of all the things in the.background?

Fiona:

Yes. I can speak to that. I think one of the big achievements that we have done, first of all, we have wanted to give a voice to people that do not have a voice in the mainstream media. Because we do broadcast on Joy 94.9, one of the communities that perhaps haven’t always felt included at the football is the LGBTI communities. One of the great achievements that we have had is being able to produce and broadcast at the AFL and the AFLW Pride games.

The first AFL, in fact, the year that our show launched was the year of the first AFL Pride game. It was also the year the AFLW was announced. In a sense, we have sort of just been in tune with the wave that was coming. The AFL Pride games, especially that first one, it was a historical night and I think everyone who was there will never ever forget. There were people that came back to the football that night that hadn’t been for ten years because they had experienced bullying as a gay person or as a trans person at the football. Finally, they felt safe to come back because looking out and seeing the players wearing rainbow socks and the fifty-metre arc in rainbow. For us to be able to be the people broadcasting and interviewing all the people that night, it is just something we will never forget.

The AFLW then was launched and of course we had been part of the storytelling with what was going on there but they also decided to do a Pride game with Novel, the Bulldogs and Carlton have been hosting a game there for the last three years. We just snuck the last one in before the Corona hit, thank goodness. That has also been really significant. We were the first all-female team to call a game for premiership points. That was at the AFLW Pride game. They are the things that we won awards for but it is also the stories that we had been able to tell through that that has been really significant and helping football be a safe and inclusive place.

Sally:

That is definitely great and fantastic. Anything to add to that, Bree?

Bree:

Only that just around the storytelling. A profound story that was told this year ahead of the AFLW Women’s game was Hannah Scott’s coming out story. We interviewed Hannah Scott prior to that game and just her comfortableness to share her story with us around how she came out and her grandma being her greatest supporter and things like that. I think what AFLW has done and what I have loved about being part of it is, it is really normal. The conversations have really normalized same-sex relationships. We have been a part of that and it felt comfortable to share their stories with us which I am incredibly proud of.

It is that aspect, and that storytelling and as Fi has touched on, you know, hearing stories of people who have now come back to the game and feel safer at the game because of these Pride games. Having AFLW sportspeople who they can legitimately relate to as being in same-sex relationships has really normalised that and helped that come to fruition, I think.

Sally:

What about you, Bec? I know you are wearing both hats today but you absolutely adore being part of Chicks Talking Footy, what’s your highlight been?

Bec:

Oh look, I think it’s the entirety of the AFLW competition just sort of changed my view on sport and so many things because it really gave women… well at first it gave women an opportunity to play. It gave, I think, more women in the media an opportunity. I think that we have seen a real increase in women and I have loved seeing that. The women crossing over into reporting on the men’s games, I think too. I think just, like Bree said, it has normalized same-sex relationships but I think the women have actually also normalized footballers.

We kind of got used to the men who say. “Oh yeah we just wanted to win and yep, we are just in it for the four points”, you know. Whereas when we talk to these women that play AFLW every week, week in, week out, they are honest, they say they had a great game. They do not hide it, they say if they had a bad game. I think it has been a really really nice breath of fresh air into what was potentially getting to be a bit of a stuffy sport.

Bree:

And they have also got lives outside of football which are really interesting. And women come from multi-disciplinary sports backgrounds. We have gotten to know net-ballers and javelin throwers, Olympians, and rugby seven players as well as AFLW footballers as well as nurses. You know there was a great story about Grace Campbell who was a Richmond AFLW player but now she is on the frontline battling Coronavirus, being a nurse. There are doctors out there, Aasta O’Conner, I think she is a doctor. They are out there and they are sharing their lives with us outside of just their football career.

Bec:

I guess that goes back to that point I know we often talk about but sport is sport. I just have always thought, and AFLW is a great example of it, about how powerful sport is as a vehicle for social change. There are so many issues, you know, you look at sport and how they embrace indigenous communities or how sport embraces other abilities or the LGBTI community. I think sport has got such a powerful role to play, to be that example for everyone else. Because people in Australia, particularly, I mean sports-people are our heroes. That is who we look at as to how we are supposed to behave.

Bree:

Yeah you are right, Bec. A prime example was the AFLW and how they embraced the YES campaign. Fiona, you might want to talk to that.

Fiona:

Actually that was some work that we did through the AFL Pride collective. So there are now sixteen clubs that have an LGBTI supporter group. We are still waiting for Queensland to catch up although they have hosted Pride games in Queensland as well. The AFL Pride collective actually worked with Tanya Hosch, in particular, the diversity inclusion manager at the AFL to discuss the policies that the AFL has, both at the stadiums around Australia but also club membership and what the policies are around when there is homophobic behaviour or when there is even racist behaviour and other types of discrimination.

One of the things that we talked about was whether the AFL was going to support the YES vote in the marriage equality debate and plebiscite. They changed their logo to YES during that time which they then got their first-hand experience of what is it like to be homophobically bullied.

But the AFL has been fantastic at making football an inclusive place for our community but also for a lot of other communities as well. I think they have invested in that. Hopefully, that investment in all of that can still go forward as we go into the post-Corona era. Perhaps we will not have the same amount of funding and money as they have had in the past but we will see.

Bree:

Clubs do a terrific job too at club level, don’t they, like for example, Carlton, they have got their respect campaign against domestic violence against women. Richmond support the Alannah & Madeleine Foundation against cyber-bullying and keeping kids safe. There is a lot of work that clubs do in the community to influence behaviours of society.

Sally:

I think the anti-bullying is something that I think that the AFLW can really, have taken a big hand in it. I was looking at some of Nicole Livingston’s speeches lately and particularly in response to the Christchurch tragedy. There was just such amazing camaraderie behind one of the Muslim female players with all the teammates.

That was Nicole….I remember her speaking in the opening day of Ramadan that I attended in Melbourne which was just amazing when she showed and talked about how this young female player did not even want to play but then all of the players encouraged her, to do that, wearing a black arm-band. It is such a sense of community when one of the players is affected. I think it kind of just shows how people can stand up in times of tragedy too. The anti-bullying is something that Nicole Livingstone speaks quite passionate about. I think it is just really fantastic if there are trolling comments in social media, she is one of the first ones to fight, to stamp it out.

Bec:

I guess one of the other things is, I mean, we are talking about elite sport and the impact that has but we know from a lot of other people that we have spoken to, it is often local sport that is really powerful too. We have spoken to say, LGBTI people on our show who…their local sporting club was the place that they felt safe when they were coming out. It is not just the elite sport, it is that grassroots sport that is really important as well, I think.

Sally:

Completely and I think, Bec, I was talking to you a while back before we started about how passionate we were about that with Rugby Union….how we experimented, asking Brett Gosper to actually agree to vary the code of conduct to make vilifying women a part of code of conduct violation to see what impact that would have on grassroots training so that everybody, starting in Victoria, that everyone who right from the little under-sevens upwards who are being trained at a club level, would have an impact information from our watch. That actually what was domestic violence would have relevant training and to realize that this code violation is taken seriously by the seniors and there have been players who already disciplined with it but also that it goes right down to the grassroots training. I feel really passionately that sport can actually impact from that level. It is really really important.

Fiona:

Absolutely. One of the things that is amazing is that participation particularly in women’s sport has just gone up on a huge curve. I think it is now something like 560,000 women that play football which makes up about a third of the people that play. On the flip side, there has been more trolling of AFLW and more cyber-bullying and abuse than any other sport including other women’s sport. It has really kind of hit this nerve of something that has just erupted in sexist kind of abuse from trolling which is just really hard to understand. It is kind of like if you do not like the game, if you are not interested, just don’t watch. Leave the rest of us that do love it and want to participate to get on with it.

Sally:

It is almost like it’s a threat in some ways. It reminds me of what Michelle Shepherd has spoken about at a stand up of a few events like that, when she disclosed that her business with taking her daughter to the footy as a transwoman when she starts being attacked by people on public transport and being jeered at. She is supposed to go and watch the game and take her daughters to watch the game. It is the same thing with these trolls. Something is threatening to them about women being great athletes and competing in what was seen as a men’s arena.

That is just so antiquated but it is still out there. That is why I have read that Nicole Livingstone is really taken up and is really concerned about it. I think some of the articles were ….pieces, every twenty twenty. Before COVID took off there was a shocking trolling about the low scoring aspect of some games and things like that and she was worried that it wasn’t just commentary, that there was a nasty spite to it in relation to women’s lack of skills and it being not a sport that women should be playing. It was just really really unpleasant.

Fiona:

Yeah. Absolutely and I think Taylor Harris has actually written a book that came out yesterday, I think. It is called “More than a Kick” and it is in relation to that famous kick that she did, it was actually at the AFLW Pride game last year and the trolling that she received as a result. The book is about what was going on behind all that kind of criticism. It will be an interesting read because she has kind of just fearlessly stood up to that trolling that was going on. She is an amazing young woman.

Sally:

That picture was just awesome. That was just so, it was an epitome of athleticism. It was just so inspiring to see that and for people to have that incredible… It is more than just a tall poppy though, there is a cruel aspect to it…..of people’s nature, if that can be stamped out by the AFL taking it on board and looking at cyber-bullying itself as well and stamping it out. It is just so important. She is very brave.

Bec:

I think that the Taylor Harris incident was a real, it was really interesting to watch how people mobilized against that bullying behaviour. What I really like was it actually, the bullies lost (for want of the better word), so badly because it was a real call to arms to people to go “we are not sexualizing women, we are not degrading them, we are not bullying them. This is an amazing athlete and we should be celebrating that like everyone would if it was a man”.

Sally:

That is why the grassroots…..

Fiona:

It is interesting actually because we have come across this photo of a woman, I cannot remember her name now, her photo was taken literally, a hundred years ago in a women’s football game at Saint Kilda oval – exactly the same kick.

Bec:

Oh my gosh. Wow!

Fiona:

It was on our Facebook page. I think it was viewed about 750,000 times because it was just striking to see this woman a hundred years ago kicking exactly the same as Taylor Harris which just shows that women have been playing the sport for a long time. And women have been shut out for a long time as well. The other amazing thing about that photo is that it is an amazing kick.

The criticism is low-scoring, low-quality games even when we come up with the photo that is an image of an amazing kick. It got sexualized. The direct sexist abuse was just alarming, what was coming out. But it exposed a lot too and I think going forward, the conversation still needs to happen. We still need to get over this because it is abuse.

Sally:

Absolutely.

Bec:

When is footy coming back guys? When can I have it back? Tell me that.

Fiona:

According to the NRL (National Rugby League), next week.

Bec:

That is great.

Fiona:

Well. Interestingly, the NRL have announced that they are going to be starting training next week, on the 4th of May. Then the 28th of May, they intend to launch their season which is really interesting because they must know something that the rest of us do not know. Interestingly the AFL have waited on their announcement until after May 11th, because Victoria is in a state of emergency, declared state of emergency until then. Then it will be interesting to see what restrictions are lifted at that point in Victoria in particular.

Will domestic travel for work purposes be allowed? Or how many people can gather and therefore train and that will indicate I think whether they will have quarantine, one big quarantine hub, in one city, three quarantine hubs in three different states, or whether they can play effectively as they normally would but without crowds. These are all questions that are up in the air at the moment, so we do not know.

Bec:

Well footy players cannot really work from home, can they?

Bree:

They definitely cannot work from home Bec. But I think we are all resigned to the …

Fiona:

….perhaps football on Zoom?

Bree:

I think we are all resigned to the fact that there will be football but with no crowds this year. They are starting to ask for fan feedback online around, how we, how fans would feel about their club winning the premiership if they cannot go and watch and celebrate it. They’re real conversations that are likely to be had. I think it will come back. It is going to look a lot different. Whether it is one hub, three hubs. Whether it is, you know, on hold until the states lift their borders so that they can fly in and fly out. But we are all awaiting the announcement. That is expected in mid-May. I think, the 11th of May.

Sally:

I think for people’s morale, it would be fabulous to have it back in any form. I know that the beautiful atmosphere you talked about, Bree, when you actually walk up to the MCG for example. It is such an amazing, you almost feel like it is a patriotic feeling. It is just so lovely…. like an Aussie. It is just fantastic. But I think, especially with the Navy Blues when they are playing and winning.

Bree:

You haven’t disclosed that, Sally!

Sally:

I know, I have this…..

Fiona:

You are a Blues supporter!

Bec:

Might be time for me to leave the meeting.

Sally:

….. I am a soft touch for any of the games. I think that would be amazing for people’s morale to slowly come back. But you are right, because of the situation, because the states are taking different positions. I guess it is very very hard to predict. But given that our Premier is very strict about children not going back to school until next term whereas other states are lifting it, I just wonder, I think, the best we would get would be games being played without crowds, I would think.

Bec:

I know – it is funny Sally, that you talk about morale. I get this stabbing pain once a weekend when my phone sends me the reminder that my team should be playing and I just have to delete it and have a little cry.

Sally:

What team is that, Bec?

Rebecca:

That is the Adelaide Crows, Australia’s best team!

Fiona:

What is interesting too is how it will affect local clubs because it is one thing for us to be able to watch the elite level sport but also how does it on-flow to local clubs and will they be able to start training together and play games together, because local clubs have really suffered, particularly young kids who have not been able to play together and train together. Hopefully, they can start to have some sort of engagement again with each other too.

Sally:

It makes a huge difference….we’re kind of a real community at times for the kids, playing in a local free team is so important and to have had that taken away from them at the moment is really tough. But again they all know that they are doing it for a good reason and to keep everyone safe. That is their role in it but I think that is beginning to grate a bit! So it would be wonderful to see the kids out there… and being a team, I think that feeling of being a team is so hard to recreate with children. Sport plays such an important role in developing friendships and socializing and I think a lot of kids…..your’re right, they are missing out on this aspect.

Fiona:

Team sports in Australia, it’s part of our national identity but it is where kids learn teamwork, they learn how to overcome defeat, leadership skills. A lot of those great life skills, that is where we learn them. It is an important aspect of our society that hopefully will come back too.

Sally:

And often in the towns it is a whole set of the community with the parents supporting those local clubs as well and support the kids and volunteers. Whether it be the Victorian Life Saving Club….. we do miss that little huddle together on a Sunday morning and with the Prahran footy club as well. It is just something that we have grown up with – all the parents and supporting the clubs too. There is a whole network that is really missing out on inter-acting which is also important for kids to see, I think.

Bec:

Well I think we have learned we need footy back, guys, pretty quickly.

Fiona:

Okay let me write that down.

Bec:

We will call Gill McLachlan at the AFL straight after this!

 

Useful Links:

Joy 94.9 FM: joy.org.au/

Switchboard: Switchboard Victoria provides peer-driven support services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) people, their families, allies and communities – 1800 184 527 – www.switchboard.org.au/

Q Life: QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.
Webchat – qlife.org.au/

Queerspace: Queerspace is an LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing support service established in 2009 by LGBTIQ+ communities for LGBTIQ+ communities. Queerspace has a focus on relationships,www.queerspace.org.au/contact/and young people and offers

Minus 18: Minus 18 lead change, building social inclusion, and advocating for an Australia where all young people are safe, empowered, and surrounded by people that support them.
www.minus18.org.au/about

Thorne Harbour Health: Thorne harbour provides support for sex, sexuality and gender diverse communities.
www.thorneharbour.org

Rainbow Families: Rainbow Families Victoria is a volunteer community organisation based in Victoria, Australia. RFV supports and promotes equality for ‘rainbow’ families:
pridecentre.org.au/resources/rainb…ria/etropolitan

Kids Helpline: A free, private and confidential telephone counselling service – 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au/

Parent line: A state-wide counselling and support service for all Victorian parents – 13 22 89 or 1300 272 736

Safe Steps: A domestic violence hotline service for women and children – 1800 015 188 www.safesteps.org.au/

WIRE Helpline: A free support, referral, and information for all Victorian women (non-binary and gender diverse inclusive) – 1300 134 130 www.wire.org.au/

Relationship Space: An online program to help parents manage divorce – www.relationshipspace.com.au

Relationships Australia: www.relationships.org.au/

 

Disclaimer: Nicholes Family Lawyers intends the information provided in this podcast as general information only, please contact Nicholes Family lawyers if you require specific information and advise in relation to any family law matter.

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