PLAY: More participation

We want more Australians, particularly young Australians, participating in sport more often.

Play.Sport.Australia., our participation game plan, sets out how the ASC can best support national participation outcomes. Our ambitions for sport are simple; at the national level we want to see more Australians participating in sport and at the individual sport level we want to see sports in which the ASC invests achieving year on year membership and participation growth.

To achieve this, the ASC will develop and share research and data including intelligence from the AusPlay national participation survey to better understand what is happening in sport, support the network that supplies sport — our sporting organisations — and help drive demand for lifelong participation in sport and physical activity through delivery of the Sporting Schools program.

Through Play.Sport.Australia., the ASC invests in NSOs through a Participation Investment Categorisation Framework and the provision of strategy and project support. Our objective is to achieve sustained participation growth across the sector and for Sporting Schools to be a core feature of Australian junior sport, helping to develop a love of sport in the next generation. In delivering these objectives, the ASC aims to work effectively with sport sector partners to develop and share industry knowledge and evidence to help address participation challenges.

The Play pillar outlines the primary strategies that will deliver the PBS Program Objective B of more Australians, particularly young Australians, participating in sport more often.

Our approach

preparations for expansion of the program to include students in years seven and eight of secondary school in 2017–18.

The ASC invests in NSOs to achieve participation outcomes aligned to Play.Sport.Australia. This investment is determined by using Participation Investment Categorisation Framework which provides for a fixed funding amount per category. This framework provides a simpler, more consistent and transparent approach for sports to participation funding.

Key activity areas include:

  • providing targeted investment to NSOs to help them grow their participation base
  • providing services and support that assist NSOs with participation strategies, planning and operations
  • developing and disseminating high-quality information, research and data to better understand what is happening in sport
  • driving demand for lifelong participation in sport by focusing on younger Australians through the Sporting Schools program.

Our success is measured in the uptake of Sporting Schools and trends in sport participation data, including NSO membership growth of NSOs, and how effectively the ASC is assisting the sector through targeted investment and support

Our results

Table 7: ASC performance against Play deliverables
DeliverableResultSupporting statement
AusPlay survey results show an increase in organised sport participation compared to the baseline established in 2015–161,2AchievedThe updated AusPlay data release showed an increase in sport participation with 11.3 million people participating once a year and 3.9 million people participating three times per  week.
80 per cent of priority participation NSOs are growing their participation base1,2Achieved21 of 26 priority NSOs grew their participation base in 2016–17. A further nine NSOs were not considered in 2016–17 due to changes in their methodology for  producing participation data. 
860,000 children participating in the Sporting Schools program1,2AchievedThere were 1,384,920 participations in the Sporting Schools Program, far exceeding the program target.
5,760 schools funded for Sporting Schools1,2AchievedThe Sporting Schools program achieved the target by funding 5,807 schools across Australia
  1. Source: ASC Corporate Plan 2016–20, page 24
  2. Source: Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17, program objective B

The ASC delivered a number of key initiatives under the Play pillar in 2016–17, led by another strong year for the Sporting Schools program where it exceeded the planned performance target, with funding provided to 5,807 schools, a 32.1 per cent increase on 2015–16 and more than 1.38 million program attendees, a 7.2 per cent increase on 2015–16. The program continues to grow rapidly, demonstrating a successful partnership between the ASC, schools and NSOs to deliver quality sporting programs, including access to coaches, resources and funding. Sporting Schools has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from all user groups, including school principals, teachers and coaches. A total of 89 per cent or more in each user group strongly endorse Sporting Schools and have indicated high levels of ongoing commitment to the program.

Following the success of the primary school program, Sporting Schools will roll out a targeted program for secondary school students in years seven and eight during term three 2017. In order to help sports develop their approach for secondary schools, the ASC undertook the Youth Participation Project with 80 secondary schools in 2016 to determine the most successful strategies for engaging the youth sector through sport.

The Youth Participation Project sought to identify and address the barriers to sports participation amongst youth (aged 13–17) in the secondary school environment. La Trobe University were engaged by the ASC to conduct research and capture findings from a teacher, student, parent and NSO perspective. The research revealed a number of significant findings, relevant to the education and sports sectors; these included:

  • what a deliverer says and how they say it has a significant influence on student engagement and participation
  • for parents/guardians, sport becomes more stressful due to increased and ongoing costs
  • many parents/guardians value academic performance or other extra-curricular activities above sport
  • for teaching staff, sport is more stressful in a secondary school environment (compared to primary school)
  • for principals, academic performance is the priority
  • for funding bodies and NSOs/deliverers, delivering sport in a secondary school environment is an administrative challenge.

AusPlay, first launched in November 2015, provides participation data for the government and the sport sector to help better understand the participation landscape and identify strategies to grow participation. The first update was released In April 2017 and the reporting showed an increase in organised sport participation. There was overlap with the initial reporting period and subsequent reports will show valuable trend data. The ASC has committed to updating AusPlay data every six months with the next release scheduled for October 2017.

Supplementing the AusPlay data, the ASC continues to use the ASPR to track NSO participation across a range of measures. This includes membership with sporting organisations, or active participation, and broader exposure to sports through events, school sport or program-level activities. In 2016, nine sports updated their methodology for calculating participation rates which will provide greater accuracy for future datasets. Whilst the data collection is an improved process it will not present a valid comparison to 2015 figures and for this reason those nine sports have been excluded from the overall NSO participation growth figures. Of the 26 sports considered, 21 NSOs recorded an increase in participation rates for 2016.

The Participation Investment Categorisation Framework was fully implemented in 2016–17 to prioritise funding to those NSOs who are best placed to deliver participation outcomes. The level of investment for each category remained consistent with the 2015–16 funding. A new category was established for sports with revenue greater than $250 million which resulted in four sports receiving a reduction in funding for 2016–17. Eight sports achieved participation growth to an extent where they advanced to a higher category and subsequently, an increase in funding. In all, 60 NSOs received participation funding in 2016–17. Future categorisation of sports will be informed by ASPR and the AusPlay survey.

The Drivers of Sports Participation (Drivers, equivalent to the AIS performance drivers) is a framework developed by the ASC to support industry stakeholders in the delivery of stronger participation outcomes. The ASC engaged Nielsen Sports in 2016 to undertake a comprehensive consultation process which included 13 workshops. These involved the sports sector and external business leaders to test and validate the key strategic areas of a business which drive growth in sports participation, and develop the Drivers. The Drivers will be released publicly in 2017–18 and provide a shared language around the pillars of participation. Additional resources and toolkits are being developed to support the implementation of the Drivers in 2017–18.

A critical enabling factor behind increased participation is the quality and availability of sufficient and appropriate sporting infrastructure. In 2017 the ASC commenced two projects aimed at; (1) better understanding the important contribution community sport infrastructure makes to the Australian economy, community strengthening and the nation’s health, and (2) supporting organisations to be more competitive in attracting investment into community sport infrastructure projects.

The ASC partnered in launch of the Let Kids be Kids campaign in February 2017. The campaign addresses the issue of poor sideline behaviour at junior sport — and received significant media coverage across the country with special features on ABC, the Seven Network and SBS. Videos featuring children discussing poor sideline behaviour and how it negatively affects their sporting experience were produced. Current elite sportspeople were also featured in videos recalling how they experienced the same issues as juniors and how that behaviour does not belong in sport. The videos were distributed through social media and the campaign has been viewed over 500,000 times on Facebook whist the online resources have been downloaded more than 38,000 times from the website.