After studying security analysis at the Australian National University, Jane Livesey never expected to work in sport. But today, she does just that, sharing Australia’s love of cricket and its health benefits with Australia’s neighbours.
Jane spent a year and a half after university as a Government-funded volunteer in Indonesia ‘doing a bit of everything to do with cricket’. This led to a job at Cricket NSW as its female participation and community engagement manager. In this role, Jane witnessed first-hand how cricket can improve people’s health and develop relationships within communities across Australia. ‘Sport is something that breaks down barriers—it breaks down language and cultural barriers, and it connects people’, she says.
Now the Development Officer for the International Cricket Council’s East-Asia Pacific region, Jane is part of a team aiming to grow the sport and share its benefits in non-traditional cricketing countries. She works with local cricket associations to attract people to the game and she is seeing impressive results. Jane says cricket is growing quickly in Indonesia, with cricket programs reaching over 50,000 school kids every year and Indonesian teams coming home with medals from the 2017 Southeast Asian Games. Seeing the women take home silver and the men bronze was particularly heart-warming for Jane. ‘Some of the kids in that team are from West Timor and we first discovered them back in 2009’, she says. ‘To see them progress into the national team and winning medals, it’s come a long way over there.’
Sport is something that breaks down barriers—it breaks down language and cultural barriers, and it connects people.
Indonesia was the first place that Jane promoted cricket in our region, but since then she has shared her love of the game across Asia and the Pacific. Her organisation receives funding from the Australian Government through its Sport for Development program. This program aims to develop healthier and more inclusive communities in the Asia–Pacific region by promoting and increasing participation in sport.
Whichever country she’s in, Jane works closely with embassy staff to increase cricket participation and promote the wider community benefits of sport. She says the Australian Government’s strong support has had ‘a huge impact on the scale of cricket programs that we are delivering, and on employment levels within those organisations. It helps us in our own efforts to develop the people, the programs, the organisations, and the communities’.
For Jane the most rewarding aspect of her work is increasing women’s participation in sport. She tells the story of one cricket program targeting mums in a village in Vanuatu, many of who were older and inactive. Partnering with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, and a local community group, her organisation ran a program to teach cricket and how to prepare healthy meals. The program also provided health checks for the women. The initiative was so successful it spread to seven other villages in Vanuatu and a whole cricket competition developed out of it, along with a new cricket program for the women’s children. The program has since been copied in Fiji and Samoa.
Reflecting on her work and its impact in the region, Jane says, ‘It’s definitely the best job I’ve ever had’.