Peta Searle has played a significant role as an agent for change within Victoria’s sporting community and is recognised for her advocacy for gender equality both on and off the field.
For more than 20 years, Searle has been a leader in the involvement of women in Australian Rules football at both community and professional levels. In 2014 she was appointed as Development Coach at St Kilda Football Club, the first female coach in the AFL. Searle was previously coach of the Darebin Falcons in the Victorian Women’s Football League. During her time as coach, the team won five consecutive premierships. Searle was the first female coach in the VFL. She was assistant coach to Gary Ayres at Port Melbourne and played a key role in their 2012 title defence.
She has been head coach at the VFL Women’s Academy and was head coach for the Western Bulldogs Women’s team for the AFL’s first exhibition match in 2013.
Searle has demonstrated that women can coach male teams and she has paved the way for more women to lead in the development of men’s as well as women’s sports. She is a regular guest speaker at schools and events, inspiring women and girls to be involved in sport as players, coaches, managers and board members.
Peta Searle was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in March 2017.