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AIS Executive Report

Who We Are - AIS Executive Report - 1 The leadership role of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has been more important than ever during what has been an extraordinarily difficult 2019–20. Following the devastating summer bushfires and the smoke pollution that affected many parts of the country, the once-in-a-lifetime COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted every industry across the globe, and sport is not immune. Sport in this country prides itself on being strong, agile and when pushed to the brink, able to dig even deeper to overcome challenges. During one of the biggest threats we have faced in modern times, the way in which high-performance sport has united and embraced adversity can only be described as inspirational. The very best high-performance athletes and coaches train to navigate their way through unpredictable circumstances. I’d like to applaud everyone within the high-performance sport sector for the way in which they’re managing their way through this unusual environment, whether it be adapting training, embracing new technologies, re-setting goals or navigating the financial impacts. With the historic announcement to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, our Executive team continues to work tirelessly to provide expertise and programs to connect and support our athletes, coaches, and high-performance staff during this sustained period of upheaval. The AIS aims for the agility required to be responsive to the sector needs as they arise and change. A significant example of this was the timely development of the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment to provide a clear path forward for a safe return to sport at all levels, and on which the Government’s return to sport guidelines were based. The AIS team, led by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr David Hughes, developed this Framework in collaboration with sport CMOs around Australia and in consultation with the Federal Government’s CMOs. While this year saw a multitude of challenges, crippling not only the sport sector but also bringing the broader community internationally to a stand-still, there have been some key achievements that should not be forgotten. The National High-Performance Sports Strategy (NHPSS) was endorsed by Federal and State Governments in November 2019 and is a critical step in uniting the sector towards the common goal of building sustainable winning systems for Australian athletes. I would like to thank our National Institute Network (NIN) colleagues for collaborating to develop this strategy and for the ongoing work to produce NIN-endorsed supporting documentation and policies.
Who We Are - AIS Executive Report - 2 This united approach was also exhibited as athletes, NSO and NIN representatives engaged with the Federal Minister for Youth and Sport in February 2020 to articulate their vision of a world-leading AIS high-performance facility of the future. Funding provided by Government for 2019–20 and 2020–21 has enabled the AIS to extend the Mental Health Referral Network (MHRN) to our alumni and talented pathway athletes, coaches and staff. This has proven invaluable during COVID-19 and has been complemented by extending mental health literacy services to the sector, to support the understanding of how to refer into the network, and to look after themselves and their peers. Supported by Government funding, $35.31 million will be provided in grants across 2019–20 and 2020–21 directly to NSOs to develop and improve their high-performance pathways to successfully identify, develop, support and progress talented athletes to achieve medal-winning performances in the future. This funding will increase the capacity and capability of a dedicated coaching and leadership workforce, alongside funding to address gaps and opportunities identified within their strategic pathway plans. In June 2020, the Federal Government announced a funding boost of $54 million over two years to high performance and this was welcome news for the sector. The investment included $50.6 million over two years as direct grants to NSOs and enabled the AIS to increase funding allocations to Rugby 7s, Football, Paralympic sports and Surfing and provide 34 NSOs with much-needed certainty as they reset for the Tokyo Games in 2021. Much of what has been achieved in the past 12 months in the high-performance sector, and indeed during my role to date as AIS CEO, would not have been possible without the support of ASC Chair, John Wylie. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank John for his passion, enthusiasm and unrelenting belief that sport, at all levels, can genuinely change lives. We know the current circumstances are impacting everyone differently, but we do believe that together we will get through this and be at our best for 2021 and beyond. Peter Conde Chief Executive Officer AIS