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Mandatory Sports Governance Principles


Governance structures significantly affect the performance of sporting organisations. Ineffective governance practices not only impact on the sport but also undermine confidence in the Australian sports industry as a whole.

Australia’s high performance strategy promotes the critical link between sports governance and business capability, and the achievement of high performance success. This link is equally true for sport participation success and is further highlighted in the Australian Sport Commission’s (ASC) Play.Sport.Australia game plan released in 2015.

It is important for all organisations to continually set a higher standard of governance and work with stakeholders to adopt best practice across the sport. These standards provide a benchmark both for the priority sports and the broader sports industry.

Governance underpins success

One of the key aims of Australia’s high performance strategy is to ensure national sporting organisations (NSO):

‘... have the structure, workforce and leadership capacity to develop successful programs to achieve competitive results and to spend taxpayer funding effectively.’

Achieving targets for high performance sport and achieving participation outcomes require accountability from NSOs:

‘Confidence in the leadership capacity and capability of sports — particularly in relation to management, governance, internal controls and business systems — is acknowledged as being critical. Sports will be required to demonstrate good leadership, governance and administration as part of the annual investment and review process.’

The ASC released its Sport Governance Principles (‘the Principles’) in 2002, as best practice guidelines for sporting organisations to operate under. Revised in 2007 and 2012, the Principles are part of a suite of information, including a template constitution, board evaluations and an organisational development framework.

Mandatory Sports Governance Principles

Elements of the 2013 Principles are critical to good governance and are reflected as non-negotiable requirements in these Mandatory Sports Governance Principles.

In 2013, the seven sports that received the highest levels of ASC funding were required to meet the Mandatory Sports Governance Principles. The ASC assessed the seven sports’ compliance against the Mandatory Sports Governance Principles and subsequently funding levels were impacted.

From 2015 the number of sports subject to the Mandatory Sports Governance Principles increased. From time-to-time additional sports will be required to meet the Mandatory Sports Governance Principles.

The ASC supports NSOs to best enable compliance, and measures compliance through the Annual Sports Performance Review process. This process is a vital part of accountability for sports receiving public funding.

The sports are assessed for performance against each mandatory principle on a scale ranging from ‘not in place’ through to ‘optimised’. The assessments are evidence-based and sports have the opportunity to provide the evidence during the assessment liaison process.

Where a sport is operating according to a Mandatory Sports Governance Principle, the sport is assessed as having ‘implemented’ the standard. The ranking ‘optimised’ is applied when a sport demonstrates a pattern of continuous improvement against the principle.

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