Thanks to ELMO Software, our HR & payroll partner, we chat to Community Engagement Manager Bridie Murphy.

Name: Bridie Murphy
Tenure: 2020 - Present
Role: Community Engagement Manager 
Favourite food: Coffee
Favourite exercise: Running 

Take us through your role at the club?

I am the Community Engagement Manager, which is a varied role. I manage and oversee our team of community engagement coordinators who run various programs and initiatives in the community, whether that be in schools or sporting clubs.

We have a massive emphasis on mental health at the Saints, so a lot of our programs are mental health and wellbeing based.

I also look after the club's social inclusion policy and framework, including our Reconciliation Action Plan, LGBTQIA+ inclusion strategy and the work that falls within those spaces, and how we translate those strategies into game days, programs and things we’re doing around the club.

What does your day-to-day look like, in-season and out of season?

It’s a whirlwind that changes everyday – which is why I love it so much. I’m rarely doing the same thing for more than a few hours.

It’s completely varied and busy which is wonderful, from working with our graphic designers to develop collateral for new programs, to presenting marquee game concepts to our playing groups & even jumping in to help run programs like our Saints Play footy clinics.

I also work with a lot of external groups and stakeholders, including our community partners. So I spend a lot of time meeting with them, seeing the work they’re doing and chatting to them about how we can incorporate their work at the Saints.

The great thing is that our programs aren't based around the football season, so they run all year round and have a nice continuity. 

Can you talk about some of your professional achievements and projects that you have enjoyed working on the most? 

It’s hard to pinpoint one massive moment, but the things that stick out for me that I’m proudest of are things like the launch of The Ripple Effect Documentary. Being able to showcase that to our entire club and share that with our supporters, as well as being able to interview people like Nova Peris and some of our Indigenous players. That was awesome to be involved in.

We also launched a new Pride Guernsey in the men’s competition this year, which was a big achievement for the club and something that I was really proud to be involved in due to the collaboration involved around it. 

The response we had from the community and footy fans saying how great the guernsey was a pretty special achievement, it was a moment where you realise "that’s why we do this."

How would you define the culture in your team/department and the wider club? Why is culture so important in the team environment?  

The culture in my immediate team, which then extends out to the wider department and our club, is one where people are always ready to jump in and help each other. We’re very team-orientated and I’ve been reminded of that so much throughout COVID.

There's a real team-first mentality across the business. For example, when our men’s team went to Perth, someone in our finance team went with them to run water and help with game day. When we run home games at Moorabbin for AFLW – there are people from across the business putting their hands up to help out in whatever capacity it is needed.

We have one of the smaller personnel in the industry, but everyone jumps in and helps and it’s never questioned, which creates a nice culture.

Does technology help engage culture? 

Without technology during the last few years I don’t know how we would’ve operated and do what we’ve been able to. We’ve been able to innovate and continue to run our programs in schools and sporting clubs online and remotely. Without that, all our touch points with the community would have completely ceased for months.

How has technology help retain key talent within the club faculty?

During COVID our team was changing and some of our programs were just getting started, so while in lockdown we did a lot of our interview processes and hiring people virtually through online chats, which allowed us to have face-to-face interaction.

What impact do things like Sir Doug Nicholls Round and Pride Game have on the culture of the club and the community?

I think for both First Nations people and the LGBTQIA+ community, those rounds and games, whilst an opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness of their culture and community are also significant moments in time where they can see people just like them platformed and part of our national competitions. They truly are occasions that foster inclusive environments that show community members that not only are they welcome at the footy, but that our game is better off with them involved – things we should be striving to achieve year-round.

Those games and events are also opportunities to raise awareness of the ongoing challenges First Nations and LGBTQIA+ people face when it comes to involvement in sport – whether that be through racism or homophobia. They’re moments in time in which we can all remind ourselves of the ongoing work required to create safe & inclusive environments within our clubs and industry.

As a Saints supporter (I have been my whole life), I had always witnessed those games from the exterior, but now to be inside the club and helping to drive these programs and initiatives, it's amazing to see the impact internally.

You may have people that have never engaged with these communities, so working on the events, partaking in education and hearing stories first-hand from individuals is impactful as it can then go onto inform the work they do in their everyday roles.

The platform we have in the AFL and AFLW is massive to be able to raise awareness of those communities – not only the wonderful things about them but also the challenges they’re still facing everyday.

Personally, when I first started playing sport I was really lucky to never experience homophobia because of initiatives like Pride Cup and what they do in the community, as well as what’s platformed through the AFL/AFLW - a lot of people don’t get that experience.

How important is it to be passionate about your role and love what you do?

It’s so important – I can’t stress it enough. It brings everything you do to life.

If I didn’t care about the LGBTQI+ community or reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, you would see it in my work. I wouldn’t push for things as much as I do, nor would I try to engage as many people in the club to be involved. It would negatively impact the people that it’s meant to be helping.

If you’re not bringing the passion and excitement, things continue in the same trajectory and they don’t continue to improve, evolve and become more impactful.

In the social inclusion and mental health and wellbeing space, you're working directly with and for the people you're trying to make things better for, so if you’re not passionate about it it’ll reflect in your work.

Do you see a difference in being a ‘leader’ vs a mentor? Or are there shared traits/skills between the two? 

To me everyone can be a leader. Leadership is having the ability to influence and drive positive change, whether that be within a team, workplace or just life in general. It’s about bringing people on a journey with you to achieve a positive outcome. Mentorship is a great opportunity to foster a more personal relationship with someone – to impart and share your experiences, knowledge and strengths with another person in the interests of their development.

I think both roles have a lot in common, but at the end of the day it’s all about building relationships to enable a positive outcome.

00:51 Mins
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What do you like most about your role?

I love being involved in things that have societal impact – it’s important that the work I engage in is cause-led and addresses injustices within the community. Creating environments and spaces that are inclusive and empower traditionally marginalised groups of people is what drives me.

I enjoy working on things that educates, creates awareness and/or highlights people and issues that otherwise may not get spoken about.

I also love working with a range of people, from varying walks of life. Variation and diversity is what keeps me motivated. 

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into something similar? 

It’s cliché, but go for it even if you think ‘there’s no way I can get this job’. Back yourself in. When opportunities come up, dive into it. Whoever you are and whatever walk of life you come from, your unique value and skill-set is what our industry needs to continue to grow and diversify. Also, get involved in as much as you can – having a wealth of knowledge is so important, so dive into every opportunity. Speak to people in the industry and start forming your networks.