GippSport and the Latrobe Health Assembly have teamed up with Lifeline Gippsland in a bid to increase the awareness and availability of second-hand sports equipment in the Latrobe Valley.

Clubs and community members are being encouraged to donate underused or unwanted sports equipment to enhance the quality and quantity of items stocked by local op shops.

It is anticipated that active promotion and a wider selection of equipment, will lead to a boost in participation numbers in organised sport in the region, particularly among disadvantaged or challenged youth.

The initiative forms part of the Latrobe Health Innovation Zone’s Increasing Access to Sport project currently being undertaken by the GippSport Community Solutions team.

The project aims to identify and address key barriers to sports participation for members of the Latrobe City community aged 12-18 years.

GippSport Community Solutions Senior Consultant Michelle Harris said data and feedback gathered throughout the project’s consultation period had highlighted cost as a common deterrent.

“Many people in our community who would benefit from involvement in sport and active recreation are underrepresented and have significant barriers to their participation,” Ms Harris said.

“Our research tells us that cost is among the top reasons young people don’t engage or disengage with sport and that better access to cheaper sports equipment could help address that.”

Ms Harris said the scheme represented one of a dozen potential solutions being trialled through a host of pilot programs over the coming months, ranging from social formats of traditional club sports to improving parent, coach and facilitator behaviour.

Lifeline Gippsland CEO Michelle Possingham said now was a great time to donate.

“Many people will have been fortunate enough to receive new sporting equipment for Christmas often replacing existing items which then become surplus to that person’s needs,” Ms Possingham said.

“Often those items left to gather dust in a cupboard or shed are still in good condition and could provide a great affordable alternative for someone who may not have the means to buy new.”

Ms Possingham said any funds raised would go towards supporting the organisation’s 24-hour crisis support line, which provides people with a vital service for a range of issues including depression and other mental illnesses, substance abuse and domestic violence.

Clubs are also being encouraged to clean out storage rooms and sheds and donate excess items such as furniture or equipment – sporting or otherwise – to be reused or re-purposed.

Donations can be made to Lifeline Gippsland stores in Moe, Morwell, Churchill and Traralgon during business hours – 9:30am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday – with a collection service available for larger donations.

Pick up can be arranged by phoning (03) 5136 3500.