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Chair's message

This is my first annual report as Chair of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC).

It has been in many respects a difficult year for Australian sport, particularly our high performance sports. Investigations by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) into potential doping activities in some professional sports have created a backdrop of negative sentiment around Australian sport, and our performances at the international level have in a number of instances fallen short of our national expectations as a proud sporting nation.

ASADA’s investigations are vital to ensuring the integrity of our sporting system. The length of the investigations is understandably frustrating; however, it is essential that all processes are thorough, fair and accurate. While threats to integrity in sport must always be taken seriously, I believe these are isolated issues which are not endemic to Australian sport. Australians can have confidence that the values for which our sports men and women have long been respected around the world — a burning desire to win within the boundaries of honesty and good sportsmanship — remain intact.

Success at the international level has become ever harder for Australian athletes. We have witnessed the stunning rise in particular of British sporting achievement, capturing many of the prizes to which Australians naturally aspire. Our 10th placing in the medal table at the London 2012 Olympic Games continued a downward trend over the past three Games, and would have been far lower had it not been for the superb performance of our sailing team winning almost half of our gold medals.

There is, however, an enormous amount to be proud of in the recent achievements of our athletes. Our Paralympic Games team shone in London, placing fifth. Many of our leading female athletes such as Sally Pearson, Anna Meares and Kim Crow produced stellar individual performances at the London Olympics when the pressure was on. Adam Scott achieved one of Australian sport’s holy grails, doing what no Australian had done before in winning the US Masters golf tournament. Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore’s successes in surfing during 2012–13 were also magnificent, as was the Southern Stars’ defence of the International Cricket Council Women’s World Cup.

The ASC is the organisation through which virtually all Commonwealth Government funding is provided to Australian sport. We are the principal funder of most Australian sports outside the professional codes, and we also provide significant funding to all of the professional sports. We own the world-famous Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). It is therefore our role to lead the comeback effort in Australian sport.

We are determined to meet this challenge without taking the easy option of seeking additional government funding. We have instead instigated a fundamental reform process to improve Australian sport, which has been captured in Australia’s Winning Edge — our new high performance strategy. Of particular note within this reform process is:

  • linking high performance sports funding much more closely with performance
  • ensuring the AIS is the world’s best high performance  sports institute once again and driving  good alignment between its activities and those of the states’ sports institutes
  • modernising governance structures in a number of Australian sports — structures that worked in a bygone era but which are now outmoded, uncompetitive and hold back those sports’ potential in a highly competitive, professional and global environment
  • investing to improve coaching, leadership skills, talent identification and innovation in Australian sport
  • reinforcing public confidence in the integrity of sport through the AIS’s best practice sports science and sport medicine principles, drawing on its 30 years of knowledge in the field.  

These reforms may not lead to instant gains but they will create lasting change and improvement. Our release of Australia’s Winning Edge was critical not just to Australia’s high performance sport, but for the way sports work as organisations. British sport stepped up for many similar changes in the past decade, and is now reaping the benefit.

We are also determined to ensure more Australians participate in sport for all the good things that come from more active and healthy lifestyles. This is all the more important in modern society given the pervasive effect of electronic toys, on our kids in particular. We want to see more sport and physical activity in our schools, and to that end we welcomed the Government’s extension of the popular Active After-school Communities (AASC) program until the end of 2014. We also expect Australian sporting organisations to monitor participation levels in their sports much more accurately, and have realistic plans to increase them.

I am proud of the ASC’s leadership role in improving Australian sport in the last year. I would like to welcome the Hon. Peter Dutton MP to the role of Minister for Sport, who I’m sure will provide great leadership. I would also like to acknowledge and thank our previous Ministers, Senator the Hon. Kate Lundy for the passion and dedication she has shown to the cause of Australian sport, and Senator the Hon. Don Farrell. I thank our Chief Executive Officer Simon Hollingsworth and all ASC staff for the enthusiastic, positive and effective way they go about their work. It is much more than a job to them. Finally, I thank my fellow Board members for their wise counsel and good humour.

John Wylie AM

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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.
650 thousand Australians either coach, teach or instruct sport.