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Chair's report

Chair's report - page 1Australia is a proud sporting country. Our sportsmen and women inspire and unite us like nothing else; we love to play, watch, barrack and argue over sport like no other nation on earth. Sport Australia (SA) and the AIS are committed to building on this great sporting heritage and creating even better opportunities in sport and physical activity for future generations. We’re starting by building stronger foundations, by strengthening awareness of physical literacy in schools, and increasing the opportunities for schoolkids to be active and exposed to new sports through the popular Sporting Schools program. It is an absolute priority that we help our children develop at an early age the basic movement skills and habits of activity that will benefit them throughout their lives. We’re challenging sports to innovate and change, in order to succeed in the highly competitive modern sports marketplace. The business of sport, particularly in Olympic sports, is being challenged — just like almost any industry nowadays — by the forces of disruption, globalisation and ‘winner-takes-all’ economics, making the need for innovation and change ever more important. We believe that a willingness to reform and update traditional sports governance structures is a key element of this. To this end, we worked this year with a number of sports towards more nationally integrated management and governance structures which we believe will, in time, save them money, help deliver more sponsors, and improve their all-important digital capabilities — while keeping an energised and committed volunteer base and the vital and valued support of State Governments. Australian Sailing, under the great leadership of Matt Allen and Sarah Kenny, is proving this is possible. We’ve posed the same challenge to ourselves, to do things differently and better. Consequently, we’ve continued to reduce costs in ASC operations, and reinvest the savings in sports. It’s a little-known fact that in the past seven years, the Average Staffing Level at the ASC has been reduced from 790 to 444 (a 44% reduction), while high performance grants to sports have increased from $106 million to $147 million. We’re proud of that. We’ve sharpened our governance structure too, making both the SA and AIS teams now report directly to the SA Board. SA has been launched under its new brand focused on participation, physical activity and sports industry growth for the benefit of all Australians. This has enabled us to empower the AIS with greater autonomy to adapt quickly and succeed in the global elite sport environment.

Chair's report - page 2We’ve continued to encourage sports to think laterally and diversify their revenue bases to reduce dependence on Government funding, which we believe will make them stronger movements in the long term. We’re proud of our leadership role in establishing the Australian Sports Foundation as a wholly separate organisation from the Australian Sports Commission [four] years ago. The ASF has flourished under its new structure and is doing an excellent job in helping sports raise more philanthropic support — one of the great underdeveloped opportunities in the Australian sporting landscape. The AIS continues to innovate in its continuing search for even the tiniest competitive edge that can make the crucial difference for our athletes. It established this year a new cutting-edge sports technology and Artificial Intelligence capability under world-class leadership. A new Gold Medal Ready program has been established, in partnership with 33 of our greatest Olympic champions together with Australia’s Special Forces, to help our athletes perform at their best when it counts the most. An Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team was also created, embedding 20 advisors in National Sporting Organisations and providing support for athletes in mental health, career guidance and connection with communities. One of the AIS’s most important long-term roles is to enhance opportunities for talented young Australians to navigate the pathway from community sport to elite excellence. To this end, we were delighted this year by the commitment by the Commonwealth Government of significant new funding specifically for athlete pathways, the largest element of a $54 million funding boost announced in the financial year 2020 Budget. This will make an important long-term difference for many young Australians; it’s been an underinvested area for some time. Helping the next generation is of course one of the most important roles of our State Institute partners, and we’ve been very pleased this year by a new spirit of partnership between the AIS and the State Academies and Institutes of Sport within the united and collaborative National Institute Network. The National High Performance Sport Strategy 2024 signed this year is the first time that all Federal and State/Territory sports agencies have signed up to a joint and specific national high performance strategy. We look forward to next year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with quiet optimism. We have amazing athletes who will do our country proud, and they’re being well supported. Looking to the long term, we are committed to a renewal and modernisation of the main AIS campus site. The current site in Canberra has been a wonderful asset for Australian sport, but now nearly 40 years after being opened, it needs modernisation and renewal. Significant work took place on this project this year. I thank the teams at Sport Australia and the AIS, led by CEOs Kate Palmer and Peter Conde respectively, for their passion and drive to improve Australian sport. I thank outgoing Board members Deputy Chair Alisa Camplin, Kate Bates and Danni Roche for their outstanding contribution to the ASC and to Australian sport over many years. All will continue to serve and help Australian sport in years to come, I have no doubt. I’m also very pleased to welcome new Board members Amanda Laing, Kurt Fearnley, Pippa Downes, Andrew Ireland and Hugh Delahunty. All have an abiding love of Australian sport and a deep desire to contribute to its long term success. John Wylie AM Chair