ACPE brings to life bold new era for women in sport for next generation

by frank-stuart

To celebrate International Women’s Day, renowned sport, dance and physical education tertiary institution ACPE has brought together the who’s who of the Australian sporting industry to showcase the expanding opportunities for women in sports to the next generation.

On Tuesday 7 March 2017 ACPE hosted a breakfast and panel discussion called Goals for Girls: Careers for Women in Sport for more than 100 high school students from a group of Western Sydney high schools at its Sydney Olympic Park campus.

The panel featured industry thought leaders including CEO of Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Raelene Castle, CEO Netball NSW Carolyn Campbell, professional cricketer Alex Blackwell, Strength and Conditioning Coach at the GWS Giants Simone Freeman, Head of Public Affairs at NSW NRL Tracie Edmonson, Grandstand Reporter Shannon Byrne, and ACPE’s Head of Department – Health Science Mikah van Gogh. The discussion highlighted the growing career opportunities available to women in the sports industry, and demonstrated the unique contribution women are making in the sporting arena.

Emma Swanson, a marquee player for the new GWS Giants AFLW attended the breakfast in her capacity as a female athlete in sports’ newest league, and also as a new ACPE student starting her first semester as part of the Elite Athlete Program.


“As a longstanding supporter of the women’s sporting community, today was about proving to students considering their future career options that the doors are well and truly opening for women in sport as the community embraces female athletes like never before,” said ACPE Head of Department – Health Science, Mikah Van Gogh.

“We’re seeing female athletes start to steal the spotlight from their male counterparts with record crowds, revamped and new leagues, and TV deals breaking new grounds for women in sport, and there’s so much more to come. There’s never been a more exciting time for female athletes to consider joining the world of representative sport.”

Mikah said ACPE had a unique insight into the dynamics of women in sport, having started as a physical education training institute specifically catering to young women until the mid 1970s, and more recently developing its Elite Athlete and Coach program.

“We designed our program to help elite sportspeople pursue their passion for high performance sport while also planning ahead for fruitful careers outside of that sphere by having a degree behind them. It is important for us that both genders are equally represented in this program, and with this in mind we recently introduced targets to achieve a 50% proportion of females by 2020,” said Mikah.

Westfield Matildas and Sydney FC player Amy Harrison joined ACPE’s Elite Athlete and Coach program after tearing the ACL in her knee that put her in rehabilitation mode for 12 months. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Sport) and hopes to eventually work in exercise physiology or as a PE teacher.

“ACPE gave me the flexibility to stay on top of my study requirements while maintaining my commitments to training camps and travelling for competitions. Where I’ve found it hard to make it to campus, I’ve always got the support I need from ACPE,” said Amy.

The ACPE Elite Athlete and Coaching Program provides each student with a dedicated coordinator who provides tailored support to plan their study program around their sporting commitments. ACPE has supported female elite athletes, coaches and officials in their study over many decades, including Ruth Hackney who represented NSW at the Australian Women’s Track and Field Championships in the 1930s through to more recently Olympic basketball player Rachel Jarry from the Australian Opals.

ACPE is recognised by the Australian Institute of Sport and the New South Wales Institute of Sport as an Elite Athlete Friendly University, and offers 12 specialist sports degrees.

ACPE is proud to partner with a number of women’s sporting organisations including the GWS Giants AFLW, NSW Swifts and Sydney Thunder.

ACPE celebrates women in sport

Hear from ACPE students and team members on the College’s long history educating women in sports:

Media Contact

Nina Tovey:, 0410 849 818

About ACPE

The Australian College of Physical Education (ACPE) was founded in 1917 as a physical education training institute for young women. Today it is Australia’s leading provider of specialist undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the related disciplines of sport, dance and physical education. Tens of thousands of ACPE students have become qualified in their field of choice since the college opened its doors.

As an independent co-curriculum tertiary institution located in the centre of Sydney’s internationally renowned Olympic Park precinct, ACPE attracts individuals from around Australia and the world who wish to launch or further their careers in the sports sector and its related professions.

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