Australian Sport: The pathway to success

Chapter 1: Sport in Australia

Page last updated: 31 October 2013

1.1 The need for change

Australian sport is at a critical junction.

Our sporting structures, traditionally focused on delivering high performance success on the international stage through a ‘top down’ approach to sport, have served us well, but new challenges confronting our nation both on and off the sporting field highlight the need for urgent change.

Over the past decade there has been too much talk and little action. Report after report has been left on the shelf gathering dust, and we are in danger of losing the momentum created in the lead up to and during the 2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In the international sporting arena Australia’s innovative systems and practices that have previously enabled us to ‘punch above our weight’, are not keeping pace with competing nations’ efforts and we are rapidly losing our highly coveted competitive edge.

And the active lifestyle that has played a significant role in establishing our nation’s identity, culture and international sporting reputation is being challenged by the demands of modern life and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, particularly amongst our children.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia has the fifth highest rate of adult obesity in the developed world. The 2007–08 National Health Survey found that 68% of adult Australian men and 55% of adult women were overweight or obese.1 Further, 17% of Australian children (5–17 years) were overweight and nearly 8% were obese.

In order to reinvigorate engagement in sport amongst our community and to regain our competitive edge, we need to do things differently. We need to place a strategic focus on collaboration, reform and investment across the entire sporting pathway – from the grassroots up.

A new whole-of-sport approach is essential to boost sporting participation and enhance sporting pathways for the benefit of health and productivity while also contributing to and sustaining our international success.

Fundamental to this new approach is moving away from the divisive community versus elite sport debates of the past and developing a collaborative, efficient and integrated national sports system focused both on growing participation for the benefit of our community as well as the high performance system.

1.2 The pathway to success

Today, the Australian Government announces a new way forward: one that is focused on boosting the participation of Australians for the benefit of our community and sporting success.

A way forward that not only delivers on the Australian Government’s commitment to boost funding to both community and high performance sport, but also for the first time, one that delivers a significant investment to the development pathway, the vital link that connects grassroots and high performance sport.

And a way forward that gives our champion athletes the support they need to represent Australia in the international arena and maintain our proud record of Olympic and Paralympic success.

Central to the new way forward is undertaking long overdue reform of our sporting system and putting in place the foundations to deliver a strategic, whole-of-sport approach to sports policy.

It has become clear that there is an emerging need and indeed opportunity to strengthen partnerships between states and territories to improve access to sporting pathways and better leverage the power of sport to achieve goals both on and off the sporting field.

In a landmark agreement, the Sport and Recreation Ministers’ Council (SRMC) has agreed to establish the first National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework to help guide the development of sports policy across Australia.

To further strengthen Australia’s sporting system, SRMC has also agreed for the first time to undertake reform that will improve the alignment of Australia’s institutes and academies of sport, breathing new life and strength into what is the
backbone of our high performance system – the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and the state and territory institutes and academies of sport (SIS/SAS).

This reform will be backed by a record $1.2 billion in Australian Government funding over the next four years for Australian sport.

This includes a $324.8 million ongoing boost to the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) which incorporates $195.2 million in new funding from the Australian Government – the biggest single funding injection to Australian sport in our nation’s history.

In recognition of the significant leadership role played by the ASC Australia’s peak national sport agency will be tasked with progressing Australian Sport: The Pathway to Success and distributing funding to maximise the Australian Government’s whole-of-sport reform agenda.

This agenda includes:
  • A Sport and Education Strategy – to increase the role and effectiveness of sport in schools and to boost the number of our children participating in our sporting base
  • Requiring National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to have an increased focus on participation outcomes as part of their funding agreements with the ASC and boosting funding opportunities for NSOs to grow grassroots participation through direct grants to community clubs
  • Introducing new funding and measures to address the particular issues affecting women’s participation, advancement and leadership in sport
  • Recognising the importance of quality coaching right across the sporting spectrum and introducing new funding, training, support and mentoring to assist our coaches
  • Providing additional coaching and officiating training opportunities for up to 45,000 community coaches and officials and subsidised costs associated with training for 5,000 new community coaches and officials
  • Doubling our talent identification program – ensuring that our future champions are both discovered and assisted to reach their full potential
  • Increasing funding for the development pathway, doubling the Local Sporting Champions program to provide financial support to 4,000 more young Australians and expanding the number of domestic competitions available for Australian athletes to compete in
  • Introducing a new program to enable our current and retired athletes to use their position as sporting role models to give back to the community or assist the development of aspiring sports men and women
  • Recognising the critical role of volunteers to our entire sports system and introducing measures to support, subsidise and reward their efforts
  • Boosting funding support for our high performance athletes and the retention of our high performance coaches
  • Assisting our high performance athletes to attend and compete strongly in international competition.

Foot note

1 ABS National Health Survey: Summary of Results, May 2009, Cat. No. 4364