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The Australian sporting environment

Perhaps it is the clean air, sunny days and open spaces or a way for different cultures to find common ground, but the idea of just getting out there and having a go has always brought out the best in Australians. We became known as a great sporting nation that punches above our weight. We are famous for producing some of the world’s best, our history is full of great sporting heroes and great sporting moments celebrated the world over.

But the environment in which we live is changing and will continue to change. The characteristics, habits and attitudes of our Australian society are evolving and so is the way in which Australians interact with sport. As a nation, we don’t get up, get out and get into nearly enough sport or physical activity. Data indicates that only 34.5 per cent of Australian adults aged 15 and above are meeting physical activity guidelines for their age group.1 For children, national data indicates only 19 per cent of Australian children and young people aged 5–17 years are meeting the recommended minimum one hour of physical activity a day.2

The Australian Government makes a significant contribution to Australian sport, and it is important that this investment reflects the value our society places on sport. Our participation in, and passion for, sport and physical activity creates significant benefits for Australia, driving a range of economic, health, educational and community benefits, as well as enhancing our international reputation.

Sport 2030, the Australian Government’s national sport plan, was released on 1 August 2018 by the Honourable Bridget McKenzie, the then Minister for Sport. The ASC’s revised strategy, launched in the Corporate Plan 2018–2022 published late August 2018, is aligned with the priorities outlined in Sport 2030 and reflects the ASC’s role in leading the implementation of Sport 2030 to create a more successful national sport sector.

In 2018–19, the ASC focused on positioning itself to deliver on its new strategy and the priorities outlined in Sport 2030. To reflect better our broadened role in sport and physical activity, the organisation launched a new operating brand in August 2018, Sport Australia, which represents sport participation, physical activity and sport industry development. This brand is about connecting with every Australian to inspire, educate and get them moving. Sport Australia is determined to help all Australians engage in sport and physical activity regardless of their age, background, or level of ability. For the first time, Sport Australia has engaged directly with the Australian public, through the Move It AUS campaign, a national physical awareness program which encourages all Australians to find 30 minutes a day to be physically active. Move It AUS recognises that how Australians interact with sport is changing and that preferences for greater flexibility and activities that fit their busy lifestyles are emerging.

Just as the lifestyles of Australians are changing, so too is the sport industry. There is greater variety in the industry, and many levels of government and non-government support. The industry must transform to support sport and physical activity in the community more adequately, and to operate in an increasingly digital world.

Driving national behaviour change, to get more Australians moving more often, means that we must evolve too. To support both Sport Australia and the AIS to deliver on their objectives, a new operating model was introduced in January 2019, which enables Sport Australia to focus on participation, physical activity and sport industry growth for the benefit of all Australians and gives the AIS autonomy and independence for high performance outcomes.

High performance sport has evolved significantly in the four decades that have passed since the creation of the AIS. When it opened its doors the AIS was unique in its focus on high performance success and high performance training methods. As the AIS model delivered results for Australian athletes, it was replicated not only abroad, but by Australian states and territories and Australian sports. Every state and territory now has a separate institute or academy, professional sporting teams have their own high performance centres and programs to enable NSOs in becoming more capable. New technology has made access to high performance programs and the data and analytics that drives it easier than ever before. The AIS has therefore refocused its role on agile and efficient structures that enable athletes to access the latest information and innovation in high performance programs wherever and whenever they need it.

On the international stage, competition is continually intensifying and improving, and as we fast approach the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, we must optimise all of the resources available to maximise our outcomes. The AIS must continue to play a key leadership role in the high performance sports system, while promoting the ethics and integrity of which our nation can be proud.

Sport and physical activity contribute around $83 billion to the Australian economy every year and supports many other industries indirectly.3 Through greater participation in sport, we will create a greater pool of talent that will go on to have more success on the podium and produce our sporting legends of the future.

Sporting achievement is good for Australia.

Sport matters.

1. Sport Australia (2019) Ausplay Data January 2018–December 2018, released on 30 April 2019.
2. Active Healthy Kids Australia (2016) Physical literacy: do our kids have all the tools? 2016 Report Card on physical activity for children and young people.
3. Boston Consulting Group (2017) Intergenerational Review of Australian Sport 2017.