New Women in Bowls Working Party to address gender balance

by Bowls Australia

Bowls Australia (BA) is taking steps towards readdressing the gender balance in bowls, with a new working party to meet this weekend.

The Women in Bowls Working Party will meet for the first time on February 16 and 17 in Melbourne, with a focus on developing initiatives to enhance participation and the experience of women in Australian bowls.

The 12-person working party will work to find practical actions available to bowls in Australia to enhance participation by women and girls and to increase their engagement in leadership and governance roles in the sport.

The working party, appointed by the BA Board following an application process, features 11 women from across Australia and includes members from a variety of backgrounds.

BA CEO Neil Dalrymple will sit as interim chair for the first meeting of the working party, with members including BA board directors Louise Witton and Jess De Greenlaw, BA staff Danielle Cirillo (Development and Programs Manager) and Lesley Bates (Regional Bowls Manager – North Queensland) and current and former Jackaroos Rebecca Van Asch and Karen Murphy.

Other members Chyloe Kurdas, Courtney Gabb, Jenni McLaughlin Pania Rawlins and Vicki Feast will also add a mass of experience to the working party, bringing experience from a variety of different sports and industries such as golf, baseball and the education sector just to name a few.

Of the more than 690,000 bowls participants in 2019, less than 32 per cent were women.

BA CEO Neil Dalrymple said the working party is a good step forward in finding ways to support an increase to women in bowls.

“There are more women in the Australian population than men yet we still have an imbalance in bowls. This is an area we can do more in and are doing more in,” he said.

“The working party is a good way to develop some strategies and ideas to increase female participation in bowls, and have those ideas brought to BA and state and territory bodies too.”

The recommendations of the working party require BA Board approval prior to implementation.

Women in Bowls Working Party

Neil Dalrymple – interim chairperson

  • BA CEO.

Chyloe Kurdas 

  • Golf Australia Female Engagement Senior Manager.

Courtney Gabb

  • Vic Health ‘This Girl Can’ ambassador, Victorian bowler, Eastern Ranges Region board member.

Dani Cirillo

  • BA Development and Programs Manager.

Jenni McLaughlin

  • Former Baseball WA Women’s Council member, Taren Point BC member, former WA Women’s state squad member, corporate governance and compliance experience.

Jess De Greenlaw

  • BA board director, former Women’s Bowls NSW appointed director, practicing barrister for 19+ years.

Lesley Bates

  • BA RBM (North Queensland), former Bowls Queensland State Development Officer.

Louise Witton

  • BA board director, Australian over-60s, NSW and Queensland bowls representative.

Karen Murphy

  • BA hall of fame member, 650+ caps for Australian Jackaroos, Commonwealth Games gold medallist, 4x World champion.

Pania Rawlins

  • Bowls SA Relationship Program Officer overseeing ‘Driving Women in Leadership’ project, 14+ years sport and recreation experience.

Rebecca Van Asch

  • Current Australian Jackaroo, Bowls Tasmania CEO, 2x Commonwealth Games gold medallist and 3x World champion, 20+ years bowls experience.

Vicki Feast

  • Toorak Burnside BC Women’s Bowls Working Group chair, doctor of education, retired/adjunct senior research fellow at UniSA and higher education consultant.