John Wylie AM
AUSTRALIAN SPORTS COMMISSION
Sport is one of Australia’s great strengths. It is a ubiquitous feature of Australian communities and its strength and benefits should not be taken for granted or underestimated. Other countries are trying to emulate what Australia has: an impressive spread of local sporting infrastructure; a culture of volunteerism; a relatively strong participation base: sustained excellence in achievement at the highest international levels; good attendances at high quality events; and a disproportionate influence in international sport.
This love of, and success in, sport is what defines us as a country. It’s our DNA. The ASC therefore has a very important role to play as the country’s peak sports agency. We have three core goals – to get more Australians playing sport, to help athletes achieve international sporting success, and to support national sporting organisations in growing their capability and capacity to deliver successful programs.
This year we released our new policy platform to increase community sport participation called Play.Sport.Australia. This paints a compelling picture of how sport has changed in the last decade and plots the opportunities the Australian sports sector must embrace in the years ahead to increase participation, particularly in organised sport. It also has introduced a simpler, more consistent and more transparent approach to participation funding and will be implemented from 2015-16. We were very pleased with the Australian Government’s support to activate Play.Sport.Australia. which allowed the ASC to provide more than 45 sports with funding to support participation and capability projects.
We were also pleased to launch the pilot of our new Sporting Schools programme which has attracted more than 4,000 schools and is progressing very satisfactorily.
Australians put on a commendable showing in August 2014 at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where we won 137 medals, including 49 gold. Our female athletes continued to shine, winning more medals than the men, and also winning more gold than any other nation. The achievements and efforts of our team were in many respects inspirational, and did our nation proud.
Our AIS continued its focus on helping elite sports and athletes to improve and achieve their goals. Since introducing Australia’s Winning Edge in 2012, the ASC and the AIS have made many profound changes in our support for elite sport by: setting bold targets for achievement; linking our investment to goals; giving responsibility back to sports to run their own high performance programs; asking for greater accountability from them in return; renewing the AIS; reducing our operating costs substantially; and reinvesting the savings in athletes, coaches and high performance staff. This has required many hard decisions in relation to the ASC’s own cost base, but those decision have, for example, allowed us to maintain overall high performance funding grants and to increase financial support to athletes through our dAIS program by 43 per cent to $12 million since launching Winning Edge.
The successful rollout of the Sporting Schools programme will be a major focus for the ASC in the coming year as we look to ensure that more children actively take part in physical activity. To complement our Play.Sport.Australia. participation strategy, we will undertake the first-ever comprehensive national participation survey AusPlay to better understand sport participation trends in Australia, to inform policy decisions and guide sports strategy with a strong evidence base which has been lacking in the past.
The Rio 2016 Olympics are less than 12 months away. We believe the ASC’s and AIS’ ambitious 10-year agenda for Australian high performance sport through Winning Edge is starting to produce dividends, and we expect to see some evidence of that in Rio as a mid-term report card. Our swimmers are in a better place than they were in the lead-up to London, our cycling and sailing teams continue to shine and many other sports are on the up.
We think achieving a top five finish in Rio will require around 17-19 gold medals. The AIS’ current prediction is around 9 -12 Australian gold medals and about 40 medals in total. We will be extremely disappointed if we don’t improve on our 10th finish in London given the way our athletes are currently performing, but this is very much an art not a science and a lot of unpredictable and new factors will come into play in Rio.
Once again we expect our female athletes to shine in Rio; they have a very good chance of winning more gold medals than the men.
With the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics on the horizon the ASC will work closely with its partners to ensure that our athletes are well placed and supported, to enable them to achieve their best.
I would like to thank the Minister for Health and Sport, the Honourable Sussan Ley MP for embracing the sporting sector since taking on the portfolio in December. I also extend my thanks to her predecessor, the Honourable Peter Dutton MP, for his support during the year.
While the ASC is Australia’s national sport agency, we recognise that in order for Australian sport to truly thrive, we must work in close collaboration with our partners. To this end I’d like to thank and acknowledge the many people who have contributed to our sector and helped the ASC with its goals – the Presidents of the Australian Olympic Committee, the Australian Paralympic Committee, and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, the state institutes and state academies of sport (SIS/SAS), state departments of sport and recreation, our colleagues in national sporting organisations (NSOs), sponsors and business partners.
On behalf of the Board I extend my thanks to the ASC’s executive management team, and in particular CEO Simon Hollingsworth, for his considered and strong leadership. Importantly, I wish to also acknowledge and thank the talented staff at the ASC. Their dedication to pursuing excellence and their strength of purpose is a critical factor in our ongoing success.
Finally, I have always said that it is an honour to serve as the Chair of the ASC Board. With the support of a dedicated, dynamic and passionate Board, we are working hard to strengthen the Australian sport system for generations to come. During the year the Board farewelled a number of Commissioners: Liz Ellis AM, Sally Carbon OAM, David Gallop, Ken Ryan AM, Andrew Fraser and Margy Osmond, all of whom have made a substantial contribution to sport and continue to do so. We also welcomed a number of new Commissioners, whom I am confident will make an excellent contribution. I thank all Commissioners, past and present, for their service and look forward to working with them in the year ahead.
John Wylie AMChair