Inclusion & Access Policy

Sydney Wett Ones LGBTIQ+ Swimming Club logo
Sydney Stingers logo

Presidents’ Foreword

The Australian Queer Aquatics (AQuA) Festival, an initiative of the Sydney Stingers Water Polo Club and Wett Ones Swimming Club, is committed to providing a safe, fun, and inclusive environment for all people, including those of diverse abilities, sexualities and genders. Being inclusive not only reflects our core values, but it also reflects the diversity of our local communities. 

We’re passionate about helping people lead happy, healthy and active lives. AQuA Festival celebrates diversity of sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, intersex status, cultural background, ethnicity, location, religious beliefs, disability and/or life stage.

We see value in creating an environment where people of all abilities can gather and contribute. This includes people living with intellectual, neurodevelopmental or physical disability, acquired injuries, neurological or psychosocial disability, participants with any sensory conditions that impact vision (blind or low vision), hearing (d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing), speech, touch, proprioception and balance. 

This policy commits to key actions in order to address the barriers which may have impacted or denied access to members of the disability community and LGBTIQA+ participants in the past. AQuA Festival affirms its commitment to a policy of zero tolerance of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, ageism and ableism within this organisation and at our events.

There is a place in our sport for everyone, exactly as you are. 

Ben Thomas


Sydney Stingers Water Polo Club

Luca Alessi


Wett Ones Swimming Club


  1. Participation in sport is a human right. We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights.
  2. Truly inclusive sport cannot be accomplished by a few; it must be done in partnership. Everyone across the sport sector has a part to play in being more inclusive, and there are already many great examples in sport of activities that everyone can do. 
  3. There have been significant attitudinal changes in the general community towards people of diverse genders and sexualities, however, research shows significant work is still to be done, for sports to be completely inclusive. 
  4. Recent studies on the inclusion of people with diverse sexualities and genders in Australian sport reported:
  5. 80% of people have witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport. 
  6. 75% of people believe an openly gay person would not be safe as a spectator at a sporting event.iii 
  7. 87% of gay males and 75% of lesbians are completely or partially in the closet while playing youth sport. Many fear discrimination from other players, coaches and officials.iii 
  8. Sport is considered hostile and unwelcoming to young people with diverse sexualities and genders.
  9. Change rooms were common sites to stress, harassment and bullying for young people with diverse genders and sexualities. iv
  10. AQuA Festival recognises that both intentional and unintentional phobic and discriminatory behaviours exist within aquatic sports in Australia, and that this has adverse and potentially significant consequences for some individuals and for aquatic sports. 
  11. Sometimes these consequences mean that individuals who want to play water polo or swim, or be a volunteer or official, feel excluded and leave, or chose not to become involved. In other instances, participants are forced to hide their true self. In some cases, individuals who experience phobic or discriminatory language or actions stay but continue to be subjected to discrimination and harassment, thus reducing their enjoyment of swimming and water polo. None of these outcomes is acceptable.
  12. AQuA Festival recognises that options for participation in sport are also limited for people living with disability. 
  13. Approximately 20% of the Australian population has a disability. This is around 4.4 million Australians – in New South Wales this equates to around 1.3 million people. This number will only increase as our population gets older, lives longer and becomes more diverse. The likelihood of living with disability increases with age; one in four people aged 60-64 years have disability. Over eight in ten people aged 90 and over have disability.
  14. Research undertaken by the Australian Sports Commission has identified that people with disabilities are 15% less likely to participate in sport and active recreation and of those that do participate, 75% are not satisfied with the types and frequency of opportunities available.


This Policy applies to the following individuals and entities; 

  1. individuals sitting on, committees and sub-committees
  2. employees, contractors and volunteers
  3. coaches and coaching staff
  4. participants, athletes 
  5. officials, referees judges, and umpires
  6. affiliated clubs, inclusive of their committees, members, coaches, staff, volunteers, and spectators while playing, training or participating in sanctioned activities.
  7. any other person or organisation that is a member of or affiliated to AQuA Festival 
  8. parents, guardians, spectators and sponsors to the full extent that it is possible for AQuA Festival to bind those persons and organisations.

It is the duty of each person and organisation to which this Policy applies to comply with the Policy and, so far as is lawfully possible, to require any other Sport-related entity or participant who or which is not directly bound by this Policy but who or which is participating in water polo or swimming in any capacity, to comply with this Policy.


  1. Definitions for key terms are included as Appendix 1. 
  2. AQuA Festival acknowledges that language constantly changes, and while we have done our best to define key terms within these guidelines, we encourage members to stay informed with other language and terminology relative to this topic via Pride in Sport – Other related terms can be found in Section 13. 
  3. Definitions for terms related to disability have been drawn from the NDIS website –, the Australian Network on Disability – and National Disability Services (NDS) – Administrators are advised to remain current in their knowledge and understanding of disability inclusion and related legislation. 


  1. To affirm our commitment to supporting the inclusion of LGBTIQA+ identifying people participating in AQuA Festival.
  2. To affirm our commitment to the inclusion and celebration of athletes with varying abilities or disabilities.
  3. To ensure we foster a safe, welcoming environment for gender-diverse people and those living with disability by eliminating discriminative behaviour within our facilities, programs, communications, and services.
  4. To affirm our support of gender affirming practices in our programs, operations and competitions.
  5. To promote a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment that engages and keeps participants with diverse genders, sexualities and abilities involved with the Sport.


  1. Participants may wear the uniform of their choosing as it aligns with their gender identity, so long as it abides by Water Polo Australia and Masters Swimming Australia policies (see 9.2).
  2. Participants requiring uniforms (for example, swimmers, players, officials, and coaches) are to be provided with an appropriate range of uniform styles and sizes to select from. 
  3. AQuA Festival will advocate for the development of a wider range of uniform choices (including the introduction of looser fitting or more modest garments) to better meet the needs of participants (including cultural needs and beliefs, women, trans and gender diverse athletes and people of varying abilities or living with disability). 
  4. Participants may choose which uniform they would prefer to wear.

Facilities and Registration

  1. AQuA Festival recognises the existing difficulties faced in having adequate changeroom and shower facilities.
  2. Under NSW law (Anti-Discrimination Act 1977), people have the right to use the changing and bathroom facilities which best reflects their gender identity.
  3. Both facility managers and occupants may consider making their existing facilities more inclusive by:
  4. changing signage on some facilities to ‘all gendered’;
  5. modifying changerooms and bathrooms to create private spaces (higher doors, room dividers, shower curtains etc); and
  6. ensuring all changerooms have appropriate waste disposal 
  7. Our participant registration must be gender inclusive and align with Pride in Sport’s recommended sexuality and gender indicators. Example: When registering, each individual has the option of selecting; Man / Male, Woman / Female, Non-Binary, or Different Gender / Identity. 
  8. Where facilities are owned or operated by a third-party, AQuA Festival will advocate for changes to provide gender inclusive registration options, and where appropriate allow for a manual registration using the appropriate gender indicators.


  1. Our competition format should include, wherever possible, options for the participation of athletes with disability. This may include, for example, the provision of reasonable adjustments such as modified equipment, visual signals accompanying whistles/instructions, or a flexible adaptation of competition structure to better include people with all types of disabilities. Where AQuA Festival is unable to provide access to competitions (due to Association rules or other constraints), we will continue to explore possibilities for inclusion within the sporting community (such as within coaching, training activities and social events). 
  2. Our competition environment should facilitate the access and enjoyment of spectators with disability. This may include, for example, the provision of reasonable adjustments (not covered by law) such as the creation of quiet supporter zones or facilitating access for supporting staff such as Auslan translators.
  3. For single-sex competitions, people can participate in the competition in which they feel most comfortable. This is in accordance with the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) which protects people against discrimination in sport based on gender identity, unless an exception criterion for legal discrimination is permitted by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  4. For mixed-sex / gender competitions, people can participate in a manner which best reflects their gender identity. Rules for mixed-sex / competitions will be applied based on gender identity.

Privacy and Confidentiality

  1. Personal information should only be collected from participants if absolutely necessary and with the individual’s consent, or where the individual is under the age of 18, their parent’s consent.
  2. Collection of personal information will be handled with confidentiality and be conducted in an inclusive manner.
  3. Any personal information collected by AQuA Festival must only be disclosed if necessary and in accordance with the law.
  4. AQuA Festival must:
  5. securely store personal information (including any record of medical conditions), in line with privacy legislation;
  6. not disclose the Gender Identity of a participant without the express consent of the individual; and
  7. ensure correct names and pronouns are used in conversations, databases, documents, and correspondence.
  8. AQuA Festival will accept a legal declaration to verify name and gender (e.g. by way of a statutory declaration) in place of identity documents such as passport or birth certificate where those identity documents have a Sex/gender marker inconsistent with a participant’s Gender Identity;
  9. AQuA Festival should be aware that, depending on the circumstances, requesting additional information from Transgender and Gender Diverse people may be unlawful
  10. AQuA Festival and affiliated entities shall protect the privacy of participants. 
  11. This is particularly important when dealing with any personal or sensitive information that the Club or Indoor Centre may hold regarding a person’s disability, Gender Identity, transition or affirmation process.
  12. AQuA Festival and affiliated entities should consider the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), and the relevant legislation and regulations of the States and Territories.
  13. Further information is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner at

Related Policies

  1. While each piece of governance may not clearly articulate it, every AQuA Festival policy is inclusive of people with diverse genders and sexualities, including their families (where applicable). 
  2. Other Water Polo Australia, Masters Swimming Australia, Sydney Stingers Water Polo Club and Wett Ones Swimming Club policies that are relevant to this policy include;
  3. Water Polo Australia Guidelines For The Inclusion Of Transgender And Gender Diverse People In Community Water Polo 
  4. Water Polo Australia National Member Protection Policy
  5. Water Polo Australia Anti-Doping Policy 
  6. Water Polo Australia Privacy Policy 
  7. Masters Swimming Australia Member Protection Policy 
  8. Masters Swimming Australia Inclusive Swimwear Policy 2022
  9. Masters Swimming Australia Swimwear Rules 2020 and  Masters Swimming Australia Privacy Policy

Discrimination on the basis of Gender Identity

Discrimination on the basis of sex or gender identity in sport will be permitted under the Sex Discrimination Act if: 

  • the different treatment amounts to a ‘special measure’, or 
  • an exemption applies. 
  1. Special Measures are positive actions used to promote equality for disadvantaged groups. They can often referred to as ‘positive discrimination’ or ‘affirmative action’ and address the unequal position of two groups of people by implementing a practice which favours the disadvantaged group.
  2. The Act provides for both temporary and permanent Exemptions from the operation of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Act. An exemption makes certain conduct lawful under the Act and prevents a person from successfully claiming that an action is unlawful discrimination. A sporting organisation must apply to the Australian Human Rights Commission to obtain a temporary exemption.

For more information on these exemptions please read the  National Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport.

Related Legislation

Federal/Commonwealth Legislation: The following laws operate at a federal level and the Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under them.

  1. Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)    
  2. Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
  3. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)

State Legislation: The following laws operate at a state and territory level, with state and territory equal opportunity and anti-discrimination agencies having statutory responsibilities under them. 

  1. New South Wales – Anti-Discrimination Act 1977

Grievance Procedures

  1. Any complaint or breach of this policy shall be dealt with in accordance with the Water Polo Australia National Member Protection Policy and Masters Swimming Australia Member Protection Policy 
  2. The Australian Human Rights Commission or State or Territory Human Rights Commission may also assist individuals in relation to any complaints of discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation under Federal or State and Territory laws.

Support Services

AQuA Festival’s internal support services include:

  2. Swimming: Marty Pappas (
  3. Water Polo: Tahlia Mihell (
  4. Ocean Swim/Beach festival: Kayla (


Barbara Wise Queries may be referred to individual event contacts depending on the issue.

For external support, AQuA Festival recommends using the following providers:

ACON provides counselling as well as social work support to help people resolve complex or ongoing violence and harassment matters.

Freecall: 1800 063 060


QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. 

Freecall: 1800 184 527


Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services to all Australians experiencing a personal crisis. 

Phone: 13 11 14


The Australian Department of Social Services Disability Gateway provides information and support for people living with a disability. Information is presented in easy-read formats and is available with Auslan translations. 

Phone: 1800 643 787

National Relay Service: 1800 555 677


Additional Resources and Support

TransHub (

This platform is an initiative from ACON Health, Australia’s largest LGBTQ health organisation specialising in community health, inclusion and HIV responses for people of diverse sexualities and genders. 

Pride in Sport Australia (

Pride in Sport is the only sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist sporting organisations at all levels with the inclusion of LGBTQ employees, athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators.

Proud2Play (
Proud 2 Play focuses on increasing LGBTIQA+ engagement in sport, exercise and active recreation. To do this, P2P work with all levels of the sporting community, from individual participants and grassroots communities, to state and national sporting organisations.

Australian Human Rights Commission (

The Australian Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory organisation, established by an act of Federal Parliament. We protect and promote human rights in Australia and internationally.

Appendix 1: Definitions

Bodies, gender and gender identities 

Brotherboy is a term used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to describe gender diverse people who have a male spirit and take on male roles within the community. Brotherboys have a strong sense of their cultural identity.

Cisgender / cis is a term used to describe people who connect with their gender as the same as what was presumed for them at birth (male or female). ‘Cis’ is a Latin term meaning ‘on the same side as’.

Deadname is a term used by some trans (non cis) people to describe the name they were given and known by prior to affirming their gender and/or coming out.

Gender diverse is an umbrella term that includes all the different ways gender can be experienced and perceived. It can include people questioning their gender, those who are trans/transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, gender non-conforming and many more.

Gender dysphoria is the discomfort a person feels with how their body is perceived and allocated a gender by other people. The experience may occur when a person feels their biological or physical sex doesn’t match their own gender. It is a mismatch feeling that can trigger a range of responses. Some people experience serious distress, anxiety and emotional pain, which can affect their mental health. Others experience only low-level distress — or none at all.  

Gender identity is defined in the Sex Discrimination Act as ‘the gender-related identity, appearance or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of a person (whether by way of medical intervention or not), with or without regard to the person’s designated sex at birth’. For example, a person’s gender identity might be man, woman or non-binary, regardless of what was presumed for them at birth.

Intersex (Intersex status) is a protected attribute under the Act. Under the Act ‘intersex’ means the status of having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are:

  1. neither wholly female nor wholly male
  2. a combination of female and male, or
  3. neither female nor male.

The term ‘intersex’ does not describe a person’s gender identity (man, woman, neither or both). A person with an intersex variation may be a man, woman, neither or both.

LGBTIQA+ (or variations of it) is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning and asexual. It is used to refer collectively to these communities. The ‘LGB’ refers to sexuality/sexual identity; the ‘T’ refers to gender identity; ‘Q’ can refer to either gender identity or sexuality.

Non-Binary is a term used to describe a person who does not identify exclusively as either a man or a woman. Genders that sit outside of the man and woman binary are often called non-binary. A person might identify solely as non-binary, or relate to non-binary as an umbrella term and consider themselves genderfluid, genderqueer, trans masculine, trans feminine, agender, bigender, or something else.

Pronouns are a grammatical means of referring to a person or persons. Conventional pronouns are ‘she/her/hers’ and ‘he/him/his’. Some people prefer to use gender neutral pronouns, such as ‘they/them/theirs’. The pronoun a person uses to describe themselves generally reflects their gender identity.

Sex refers to a person’s biological sex or sex characteristics. These may be genetic, hormonal, or anatomical. Unlike ‘gender identity’, ‘sex’ is not defined in the Act.

Sistergirl is a term used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to describe gender diverse people that have a female spirit and take on female roles within the community. Including looking after children and family. Many Sistergirls live a traditional lifestyle and have strong cultural backgrounds.

Transgender (commonly abbreviated to ‘trans’) is a general term used to describe a person whose gender identity is different to the sex they were assumed or assigned at birth. Being transgender is about how an individual expresses and connects to their own gender. It is not necessarily about their biological characteristics. Trans people may position ‘being trans’ as a history or experience, rather than an identity, and consider their gender identity as simply being a woman, man or non-binary. Some trans people connect strongly with their trans experience, whereas others do not. Processes of gender affirmation may or may not be part of a trans or gender diverse person’s life.

Transition / Gender Affirmation means the personal process or processes a trans or gender diverse person determines is right for them in order to live as their gender and so that society recognises this. Transitions may involve social, medical/surgical and/or legal steps that affirm a person’s gender. Affirming gender doesn’t mean changing gender, ‘having a sex change’ or ‘becoming a man or a woman’, and transition isn’t the same as being trans. A trans or gender diverse person who hasn’t medically or legally affirmed their gender is no less the man, woman, non-binary person or other gender, they’ve always been.

Social transition is the process by which a person changes their gender expression to better match their gender identity. This may include changing their name, pronouns, and appearance.

Medical transition is the process by which a person changes their physical sex characteristics to align with their gender identity. This may include hormone therapy, surgery or both.

Legal transition is the process by which a person changes their identity documents, name, or both, to reflect their gender identity. This may include changing their gender marker on a passport or birth certificate or changing their name on a driver’s licence or bank card.


Disability, according to the WHO, refers to a physical, mental or pyschological condition that limit’s a person’s activities and interact with the world around them. Any condition that restricts a person’s mental, sensory or mobility functions. It may be caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease. A disability may be temporary or permanent, total or partial, lifelong or acquired, obvious or non-obvious. 

Intellectual Disability includes conditions appearing in the developmental period (age 0–18 years) associated with challenges of mental functions, difficulties in learning and performing certain daily life skills and limitations of adaptive skills in the context of community environments compared to others of the same age. These include: Down syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, cri-du-chat syndrome, specific learning/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) (other than intellectual) and Autism. 

Physical Disability is used to describe conditions that are attributable to a physical cause or impact on the ability to perform physical activities, such as mobility. 

Acquired brain injury is used to describe multiple disabilities arising from damage to the brain acquired after birth. Results in deterioration in cognitive, physical, emotional or independent functioning. 

Neurological applies to conditions impacting the nervous system occurring after birth, includes epilepsy and organic dementias (for example, Alzheimer’s disease) as well as such conditions as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Deafblind (dual sensory) refers to dual sensory conditions associated with severe restrictions in communication, and participation in community life. Deafblindness is not just being blind or low vision with a hearing loss, or a hearing loss while being blind or low vision. Deafblindness is a unique disability of its own requiring distinct communication and teaching practices.

Vision encompasses blindness and low vision (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses), which can cause severe restriction in communication and mobility, and in the ability to participate in community life.

Hearing encompasses deafness, hard of hearing and hearing loss.

Speech encompasses speech loss, reduced speech and/or difficulty in being understood.

Psychiatric disability includes recognisable symptoms and behaviour patterns, frequently associated with distress, which may impact personal functioning in standard social activity. Includes the typical effects of conditions such as schizophrenia, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, addictive behaviours, personality disorders, stress, psychosis, depression and adjustment disorders. 

Developmental delay applies to children aged 0–5 where conditions have appeared in the early developmental period, but no specific diagnosis has been made and the specific disability group is not yet known.

Societal attitudes/issues

An ally, cis ally, straight ally, or heterosexual ally is typically a heterosexual and cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTIAQ+ social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Not everyone who meets this definition identifies as an “ally”. An ally acknowledges that LGBTIQA+ people face discrimination and thus are socially disadvantaged. They aim to use their position as heterosexual and cisgender individuals in a society focused on heteronormativity to counter discrimination against LGBTIQA+ people. An ally can also be someone who identifies within the LGBTQ community and supports an aspect of that community in which they don’t identify with (e.g. a Cisgendered gay man may be an ally to transgender individuals).

Biphobia is discrimination and abuse towards someone who is attracted to more than one gender, and even includes when that person’s identity is erased. This can be in the form of telling someone that their sexuality is “just a phase”, or even telling them to “pick a side.”

Cissexism is where something is based on a discriminatory social or structural view that positions (either intentionally or otherwise) the trans experience as either not existing or as something to be pathologised. Cissexism believes that gender identity is determined at birth and is a fixed and innate identity that is based on sex characteristics (or ‘biology’) and that only binary sex and gender (male/man or female/woman) are valid and real.

Heteronormativity (also known as cisnormativity) the view that heterosexual relationships are the only natural, normal and legitimate expressions of sexuality and relationships, and that other sexualities or gender identities are unnatural and a threat to society (GLHV, 2016).

Homophobia refers to negative beliefs, prejudices and stereotypes that exist about people who are not heterosexual. Verbal homophobia is the most common form. Things like name-calling, rumours and abusive slurs (e.g. f*g’ or ‘d*ke’). Phrases like “that’s so gay” which compare sexuality to undesirable words like ‘crap’ can have a negative impact. Homophobia also include abusive threats or actual physical violence, sexual harassment and deliberately excluding someone because of their sexuality.

Misgendering is an occurrence where a person is described or addressed using language that does not match their gender identity. This can include the incorrect use of pronouns (she/he/they), familial titles (father, sister, uncle) and, at times, other words that traditionally have gendered applications (pretty, handsome, etc.). It is best to ask a person, at a relevant moment, what words they like to use.

Transphobia refers to negative beliefs, prejudices and stereotypes that exist about transgender/trans and gender diverse people (any person who is no cis-gendered). You may have heard transphobic slurs like ‘tr*nny’, or witnessed restrictions on the way that people are allowed to express their gender. Things like which uniform you’re allowed to wear or toilets you can use. Transphobia can also include abusive threats or actual physical violence, sexual harassment and deliberately excluding someone because of their gender.

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