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Chair's message

In 2012, the Australian Sports Commissionlaid down an ambitious blueprint to improve Australian sport called Australia’s Winning Edge. It’s early days in a long term programme, but we believe that Australian sport is already the better for it. Our national sporting organisations (NSOs) have improved their governance and taken ownership of the delivery of their high performance programmes, and the ASC itself has become sharper, more nimble and more effective.

Australia’s Winning Edge changed the game in our high performance sports programmes by:

  • setting, for the first time, simple and ambitious national goals for Australia’s international sporting achievement
  • linking high performance funding from the ASC to sports’ ability to contribute to those goals and to the quality of their governance
  • handing full control of high performance programmes back to NSOs which are best placed, under good leadership and governance, to make the right calls
  • challenging all sports to improve their governance structures — a challenge which most have responded to incredibly well. Pleasingly, the reform effort has cascaded down beyond the seven largest ASC-funded sports and is now underway across virtually every sport.

While we’ve asked our sports, athletes and coaches to embrace change, the ASC has also practiced what we preach by changing ourselves — profoundly so. In recent years, we have had to deal with significant funding reductions in real terms given the pressures on the national budget. All of these reductions have been found from the ASC’s operational cost base. ASC staffing will have reduced by nearly 40 per cent over the past three years once changes presently underway are completed in 2014-15. This means that funding for sports and athletes has been able to be preserved and in some cases increased, and Direct Athlete Support funding has also increased by 43 per cent from $8.4 million to $12 million per year. I believe the ASC can be proud of this achievement and of its total priority on maintaining funding support for our sports and athletes.

Sochi Winter Olympics, Paralympics and Glasgow Commonwealth Games

The past 12 months have seen three highly significant international Games events — the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Our Australian teams performed well and generally gave a great account of themselves and their country.

However, these events showed how hard success has become in the modern era in elite international sport. Our goals are to be top 15 at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics and the number one nation at the Commonwealth Games. These goals were not achieved in 2014. We finished 24th in the Sochi Games, but there were many positive signs for the future from our young team, including three medals and a noticeable increase in the depth of our talent pool (15 top 10s, 27 in the top 16). At the Paralympic Games, Australia finished in 19th position. We finished second in the Commonwealth Games medal tally behind England, not a place we wish to be in the future, but many sports — particularly swimming, cycling, hockey and shooting — performed well and showed good promise for the future.

The ASC Board remains committed to the goals set out in Australia’s Winning Edge in 2012. We recognise that some of them, such as a top five placing at the Olympic Games, are going to be extraordinarily hard to achieve in the near term, but we believe that success has to start with high aspirations. We believe in our sportsmen and women and their dreams — it’s our job to get the funding and support systems right to give them the best chance of realising them.

Community participation in sport

The ASC is equally committed to increasing community participation in sport as it is to high performance success.

Central to this goal is increasing interest and participation in sport and physical activity in our children and youth. The most natural hub for this is our school system. We believe physical activity and sport in schools foster lifelong heathy habits, important skills, improved educational outcomes, and the positive values and social cohesion that are intrinsic in so many ways to sport.

To this end, we warmly welcomed the Australian Government’s Sporting Schools initiative announced in the 201415 Budget. Sporting Schools replaces and will substantially improve upon the Active After- school Communities (AASC) programme providing more young Australians than ever before with the opportunity to participate in sport while at school. Sporting Schools will roll out on 1 January 2015 with more than 5,000 primary schools delivering sporting programmes to more than 850,000 children in the school yard before, during and after school with the support of NSOs. This is more than double the number of schools and children that were reached under the AASC programme, and is one of our most important participation initiatives.

Increasing revenue for Australian sport

At a time when the ASC faces significant and ongoing budget pressures, it is incumbent on us to help Australian sports increase and diversify their revenue bases. We have sought to do this in a variety of ways including:

  • investing significantly more in the Australian Sports Foundation so it can help Australian sports raise more philanthropic and community funding
  • launching new initiatives such as our Women Achievers in Sport programme, which has brought together senior executives from corporate Australia and our leading female athletes to raise awareness of the outstanding unrealised opportunity that exists for corporate Australia in women’s sport.

Outlook

A priority this year will be to work with NSOs, the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Committees and all state institutes and academies of sport to ensure that all four peak elements of our high performance sporting system — the AIS, SIS/SAS, the AOC/APC and NSOs — are aligned and working together as effectively as possible towards national goals. In a large and diverse country like Australia this is a complex task, but that complexity cannot disguise the simple truth that it is crucial to our national success in sport.

We will continue to work with our NSOs to improve their governance and the sense of common purpose in their sports. There is always room for improvement in this critical area. Many of our NSOs need to continue to evolve to become truly what their name suggests — genuine national sporting organisations, not federations of state bodies focused first and foremost on doing their own thing at state level.

We will help NSOs maximise their commercial possibilities through a new Australian Sport 2.0programme designed to ensure that Australian sport and its business models are at the cutting edge of the digital revolution.

In the participation area we will roll out the new Sporting Schools programme. We will also launch, following sector consultation, a new national survey to collect robust sports participation data. While this is not the most exciting initiative to discuss, it is one of the most important. There is a lack of reliable and comparable participation data across sports today, in part due to changing community lifestyles and less structured forms of sport and physical activity. This presents real challenges for sound decision making in this vital area for community wellbeing. We are tackling this challenge in 2015.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Minister for Health and Sport, the Honourable Peter Dutton MP for his commitment to the goals of the ASC and Australian sport more generally. Managing the large combined portfolios of Health and Sport is not an easy task, but the Minister has found the time and energy to support Australian sport, evidenced by his attendance at the Sochi and Glasgow Games.

I acknowledge and thank the President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates AC, President of the Australian Paralympic Committee, Glenn Tasker, the President of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, Sam Coffa, and their respective boards and staff for their strong support for the ASC’s agenda and programmes. A very positive sense of teamwork has been established between our organisations in recent years for the good of Australian sport.

On behalf of the Board I extend my thanks to CEO Simon Hollingsworth, AIS Director Matt Favier and all ASC people for their enthusiasm and continued dedication in striving for excellence both on and off the field. I commend the ASC leadership team for their thoughtful and sensitive handling of the difficult process of headcount reductions at the Commission, and am filled with admiration for the way the whole ASC team has maintained its professionalism and the service to our stakeholders throughout this process.

Finally, but not least, the ASC is fortunate to be served by a talented and committed Board. I thank them for their wise advice, good humour and passion for Australian sport. I include in this group Board members who retired this year Professor Jane Halton PSM and Glenys Beauchamp PSM, who made insightful and memorable contributions. I know all Board members share my view that it is an honour for all of us to serve Australian sport and athletes, and to do everything we can to ensure that more Australians participate in sport, and that this proud sporting nation achieves the success of which it is capable on the international sporting stage.


John Wylie AM
Chair

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Gold Coast 2018 is the 5th Commonwealth Games to be hosted by Australia.

Quick numbers

11.6 million Australian adults participate in sport or physical activity three or more times per week.
3.2 million Australian children participate in organised sport or physical activity outside of school.
$10 billion is spent annually by Australians on fees for participation in sport or physical activity.
17 million Australian adults participate in a sport or physical activity every year.