Sport Australia Chair John Wylie has welcomed the Australian Government’s $385.4million package for sport and physical activity announced in last night’s Federal Budget, declaring it as one of the biggest funding injections for sport in years.
The Federal Budget delivered more than $158 million of new investment directly to Sport Australia and the AIS, helping to fund community participation initiatives through to additional support for Australia’s high performance athletes. An additional $54.1 million will be invested in high performance sport for athlete pathways and wellbeing, while school and community infrastructure programs will be expanded.
“This funding creates incredible opportunity for sport, from children learning to play and be active through to talented athletes representing and inspiring the nation,” Wylie said. “It is one of the biggest funding injections in Australian sport in years.”
Wylie said the extension of the national Sporting Schools program was an important feature of participation funding. Sporting Schools, which has reached 85 per cent of schools in its first four years, received a further $40million in funding to extend the program until the end of 2020.
“Sporting Schools can be a vital catalyst for improving the health of young Australians.” Wylie said. “We want to give every Australian child the opportunity to grow up happier and healthier through a connection with Sporting Schools.
“Since its launch in 2015, more than 7,100 schools have been funded by the Sporting Schools program and there have been almost 4.8million attendances in Sporting Schools activities.
“Sport and physical activity is vital to the overall development of children, including their mental wellbeing. The beauty of Sporting Schools is that it’s free, so the opportunity is there for every school child, no matter their location, background, ability or socio-economic status.
“Creating healthier habits in our children will take time, but it’s unquestionably worth the effort because we know active kids are far more likely to become active adults. One positive connection with Sporting Schools could help make a lifetime of difference.”
Sport Australia’s AusPlay research shows 81 per cent of Australian children are not meeting recommended physical guidelines. To combat this, Sporting Schools partners with 33 national sports to provide free and fun sporting opportunities for children before, during and after school.
Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer says: “We welcome the Australian Government’s investment and confidence that Sporting Schools can help drive behavioural change in our children, enabling them to reap the enormous benefits sport and physical activity can provide.”
Another key investment in last night’s Federal Budget was an extra $42.5 million for the Move It AUS Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program. The program was launched this financial year and has already provided more than $60million for more than 450 projects around the country to upgrade community sporting facilities.
“In delivering on the national sport plan, Sport 2030, Sport Australia’s vision is for Australia to become the world’s most active sporting nation and access to active spaces is critical to get more Australians moving,” Palmer says.
“Building better sporting facilities is about building stronger, healthier communities by promoting physical activity, social connection, civic pride and economic vitality.”
AIS receive funding boost for Australian athletes
Wylie, along with Australian Institute of Sport CEO Peter Conde welcomed the funding $54.1 million boost the AIS will receive which will provide substantially improved development opportunities for talented young athletes around the country. It will also fund enhanced athlete wellbeing and personal development initiatives, and improved means-tested financial support for athletes.
Wylie said the development of emerging young athletes was a critical challenge facing Australian sport.
“This funding is critical to the future of Australian sport. It will substantially improve the AIS’s ability to discover and support our champions of the future. It will provide better opportunities for young Australians everywhere around the country to realise their potential to graduate from club sport to representing their region to their State and ultimately their country,” Wylie said.
“In Olympic sport, it can take eight to 12 years to identify a talented young athlete with potential and develop them to be contending for medals at major international events. It requires long term planning and commitment; it’s an investment in the future.”
AIS CEO Peter Conde said: “Sports have been telling us that athlete pathways are an ongoing challenge, so this funding is a great result for the future of Australian high performance sport. Since the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics we’ve seen the retirement of long-standing champions such as Anna Meares in cycling, Kim Brennan in rowing and Kurt Fearnley in para-athletics. This is about finding the future champions that will lead our next generation of athletes and inspire Australians.
“This funding will enable the AIS, in partnership with sports and the National Institute Network, to place a greater focus on things such as talent identification and broadening our specialist coaching support for young athletes.
Conde said the new funding would also enable the AIS to invest more directly in sports and athletes.
“Athletes are at the very heart of what we do and so the AIS will be increasing our annual direct support grants – dAIS – to athletes by more than 16 per cent to $14million a year,” Conde said. “These dAIS grants are in addition to AIS sport investment and they are means-tested, so this support goes directly to athletes who need it most to allow them more time to train, prepare and compete.”
The wellbeing and personal development of athletes continues to be an important AIS priority. Further investment will now occur in areas such as mental health, athlete engagement with their communities and transition support for retiring athletes. The AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement division, launched last year, will be able to provide greater support for athletes so they are equipped to enjoy life success and not just podium success.
“The AIS recently launched a national Mental Health Referral Network and we have plans to expand this service to benefit even more athletes,” Conde said. “We want athletes to be able to transition successfully to life after sport too, so the AIS will invest in support for athletes at the end of their sporting careers.”
“Sport Australia and the AIS thanks the Australian Government and Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie for this investment. It is recognition that sport and physical activity are incredibly important to Australians,” Wylie said.