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Participation Design Toolkit

Drivers and barriers of participation

Framework of key elements organisations can address to overcome barriers to participation

Barriers to participation

During the development of the Drivers of Participation, a number of barriers to participation were also identified. These barriers can be overcome by implementing the participation drivers.

The most important driver to consider in overcoming any barrier is the Market Insights driver. It is essential to have a deep understanding of the motivation and needs of your new and existing participant market so that you can be responsive to consumer needs.

Once you have this, specific barriers relating to your participant market can be overcome by implementing the associated Drivers of Participation.


Participation trends show us that Australian families are increasingly busy and convenience is king. People are less willing (or able) to commit time for training and set fixtures in team sports. Additionally, more activities are competing for the limited time that Australians have for leisure including gaming and screen time.

This barrier can be overcome through the Product Design and Workforce drivers.


Participation in sport often involves significant investment which can be a major barrier for Australians, particularly families where all members may wish to participate in a number of sports. Costs include fees, uniform, travel and equipment.

This barrier can be overcome through the Product Design, Commercial and Infrastructure & Equipment drivers.


Access can be a barrier that effects participation in many ways. It may include location (particularly in rural and remote locations), building accessibility, availability of infrastructure or a lack of transportation.

This barrier can be overcome through the Product Design, Workforce and Infrastructure & Equipment drivers.


Participation trends show that people are often looking for more fun and fitness with less competition, leading them to favour less structured forms of physical activity. Similarly, unwelcoming cultures, poorly designed sessions, and deliverers who are unfriendly all lead to a decline in participation.

This barrier can be overcome through all drivers, but particularly Product Design, Workforce, and Marketing & Communication.

Self esteem

Research shows, particularly for young females, that the way that people feel about themselves while participating can restrict ongoing participation. This includes lacking confidence in their ability, feeling responsible for a team or individual result or having poor body image which can be exacerbated by uniforms or activewear.

This barrier can be overcome by WorkforceProduct Design and Infrastructure & Equipment drivers.


Fear of injury as people age or for young children can stop people from participating. Other risks which may impact participation include child safety concerns and the safety of facilities and equipment.

This barrier can be overcome through the Product DesignInfrastructure & Equipment and Marketing & Communication drivers.


Even for well-designed activities, people may not know how or where to access participation opportunities. They may also have a narrow view of a sports offerings or poor association with a brand.

This barrier can be overcome through the Marketing & Communication driver.


Infrastructure which is inaccessible, unwelcoming environments, poor venue quality, location and venue safety can all have a negative effect on a participants experience.

This barrier can be overcome through Infrastructure & Equipment and Workforce drivers.


The way a product is delivered to the market is very important. This includes poor quality coaches, badly designed products, poorly organised sessions or out of date methodology.

This barrier can be overcome through Product Design, and Workforce drivers.

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