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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE D
28/09/1989
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARTS, SPORT, THE ENVIRONMENT, TOURISM AND TERRITORIES
Program 1-SPORT and RECREATION
Subprogram 1.4-Australian Sports Commission

SENATOR PUPLICK -Do the selection criteria for people coming to the Institute include any recognition of the specific needs of young sportsmen and women from remote and regional parts of Australia where they previously would have been unlikely to have had access to significant sporting facilities to get them to an earlier stage of development?

MR CROSSWHITE -Are you talking about scholarship holders?

SENATOR PUPLICK -Yes.

MR R. SMITH -Yes. Earlier this year, we had one boy from, I believe, the Alice Springs-Tennant Creek area. This was one example where he applied for a scholarship. His credentials were examined by both the AIS track and field coaching coordinator, together with the national coach from Athletics Australia, and he was deemed to have sufficient credentials to then be taken on scholarship and moved to Melbourne, where his education and his athletics were pursued.

SENATOR PUPLICK -But you do not, in any sense, factor into these things some particular allowance or variation to compensate for the fact that people from remote areas who might be applying have previously suffered some degree of disadvantage in terms of their access to sporting facilities? Should some compensation be made to overcome that difficulty?

MR R. SMITH -I would like to believe that the coaches who cover those areas would take some of those things into consideration. I would also believe that, through the various networks of competitions at State and national level, all those aspects could be considered by the coaches who would be viewing those athletes across the whole range, from the developing elite to those who are the elite athletes.

SENATOR PUPLICK -What is the total all-up cost expected to be required for the new sports drug facility which was announced in July?

MR FERGUSON -This is the facility in Sydney?

SENATOR PUPLICK -That is correct.

MR FERGUSON -Do you mean the all-up cost of the facility, that is, the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories? I am not too sure what the question is. I do not know what that cost is at all.

MR R. SMITH -It has a multitude of functions that are not related to us.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Mr West announced on 10 July that there would be a new sports drug facility for Australia.

MR FERGUSON -I see, just the sports drug facility.

SENATOR PUPLICK -The facility is to be provided through AGAL at Pymble.

MR FERGUSON -That is the testing facility.

SENATOR PUPLICK -At Pymble. I want to know first of all what is the cost involved in that?

MR FERGUSON -The Government Analytical Laboratory conducts a whole series of analytical activities. On the drug side, it is to operate on a cost recovery basis, so the analysis it does specifically relating to drugs will be on that basis. It will have some overheads, but theoretically it should not cost anything to the laboratory.

SENATOR PUPLICK -What cost to the Commonwealth will be involved in getting that facility to the stage where it attains full accreditation for sporting purposes?

MR HAYNES -The Government provided, through the Australian Sports Drug Agency for this financial year, a total of $130,000 which should take the Australian Government Analytical Laboratory to the standard required to receive full international accreditation.

MR HOBSON -The previously contributed sum was $255,000.

SENATOR PUPLICK -So we are looking at about $400,000 as the total overall cost of getting re-established, in terms of having an internationally accredited operation based in Australia?

MR BLUNN -That is the contribution we have made. There may have been other elements put in by the Department of Administrative Services. As long as it is only this portfolio you are talking about, that is an accurate answer.

SENATOR PUPLICK -I want to come to the question of what role, responsibility or interest the Commission has in the final determination of all of the proceedings involving Alex Watson. As you would know, Mr Watson has made an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has been denied, the Court having indicated that it will not hear Mr Watson's appeal. In terms of the assertion he has made-and I do not pronounce judgment one way or another-that he obeyed the rules but fell foul of the requirements when the tests were undertaken and keeping in mind that this is a problem which could affect other Australian athletes in similar circumstances if not sorted out in relation to the question of caffeine consumption, what interest does the Commission have in getting this matter determined, one way or the other, or does it regard the matter as closed?

MR CROSSWHITE -The matter is something that the Australian Olympic Federation and the International Pentathlon Federation have handled because they had jurisdiction over the competition. The Commission has had no involvement whatsoever in it.

SENATOR PUPLICK -There are two things that arise, it seems to me. One involves the appropriate standards which you presumably would want met by Australian athletes, including those who are holders of scholarships and who are Institute athletes. The second is that you would want to have this matter settled in a satisfactory fashion, one way or the other. Are you saying that you are perfectly happy simply to leave the fighting and the determination of this question on behalf of an Australian athlete in the hands of the Australian Olympic Federation?

MR CROSSWHITE -I do not believe that the Commission has any jurisdiction over the case in that it occurred at the Olympic Games and the person involved was a member of the Australian Olympic team. He was not a scholarship holder; he was not a recipient of any assistance from the Commonwealth Government. The drug testing authority would certainly have an interest-and Steve can speak to this-as to the procedures, the limitations and the caffeine measurements. That is a matter that has been looked at internationally by the IOC medical commission, I assume.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Do you not feel that the Commission has a wider responsibility for the well-being of Australian sportsmen and women, whether they happen to be scholarship holders, or connected with the Institute or the Commission as such? Do you not think you have a brief on behalf of all Australian sportspersons?

MR HAYNES -With respect to the case of Mr Watson, I should point out that the Australian Sports Drug Agency has made every attempt to provide the necessary scientific information to Mr Watson with regard to his appeal. It is a decision for the international sporting organisation. There have been a number of precedents for that to take place. I can certainly provide you with documentation on those judgments in cases similar to Mr Watson's. The Australian Sports Drug Agency, however, this year, in concert with the applied sports research program of the Australian Sports Commission, will be investigating the appropriateness of a prescribed level of 12 for caffeine and will provide that information to the IOC through the Australian Olympic Federation. We are extremely concerned as an agency about the right of athlete appeal. Of course, it was a recommendation in the interim report from the Senate Committee inquiry into drugs in sport. I understand that the Department at present is investigating the necessary mechanisms to look at appeals procedures.

SENATOR PUPLICK -I would be grateful if you could supply me with that information because presumably at some stage one wants to be able to advise Australian athletes with certainty as to what these things are. If, at some stage, we are successful with an Olympic Games bid in Australia, facilities in Australia will have to comprehend this problem on an international basis. It seems to me to be in everybody's interests to get the matter resolved in a more satisfactory fashion than has been the case to date.

MR BLUNN -If we hold an Olympic Games it would be under the aegis of the International Olympic Committee, and it will set the rules. But you are absolutely right with regard to the other matters.

SENATOR PUPLICK -There are two other points in relation to this. In terms of the publication Violence in Sport which was published by the National Committee on Violence, does this represent the official view of the Commission or is it simply a significant personal contribution made by Mr Wenn?

MR CROSSWHITE -More of the latter, Senator. The Commission was asked to assist with the preparation of a paper for that Committee and we did so through that particular officer.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Could I take you to one of the early comments in the paper under the heading `Concern over Violence' which draws attention to an announcement, I think originating in New South Wales, that government should take positive steps to encourage ethnic soccer clubs to Australianise so that racial tensions do not flare. Does the Commission take the view that the alleged ethnicity of Australian soccer clubs is a cause of racial tension?

MR CROSSWHITE -I do not think the Commission has ever considered that, but my own feeling is that they would not take that stand.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Does the Commission take the view that there is a need to encourage ethnic soccer clubs to Australianise and that one of the reasons for that is that it allegedly relates to the reduction of racial tension?

MR CROSSWHITE -As I say, the Commission has not considered that; but I do not believe that they would take that stance and make that suggestion.

SENATOR PUPLICK -The other matter that particularly arises out of this paper is the question of the codes of behaviour which are dealt with. Can you tell me what promotion is actually given to the specific details of the codes of behaviour?

MR CROSSWHITE -The Aussie Sports codes of behaviour were written approximately two years ago. They were distributed to every State government sports department, which in turn distributed it to all of the State sports associations. They would have also gone to almost every primary school and secondary school in the country.

SENATOR PUPLICK -What studies has the Commission itself undertaken into the question of the levels of violence-particularly amongst spectators-in Australian sports?

MR CROSSWHITE -The Commission itself has not undertaken any particular studies of violence in sport. The Sport and Recreation Ministers' Council, through a number of studies, has undertaken some research into this area. We have used that particular research for our work.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Is there no independent work done by the Commission?

MR CROSSWHITE -Not by the Commission.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Finally, on this particular program, I have a couple of questions which arise out of the women in sport program. Why do you need a State and national register of sportswomen?

MR CROSSWHITE -That is deemed necessary to provide a listing or a database for those individuals who might be asked to assist with the effort of getting more girls and more women involved in sport.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Who is going to maintain this register?

MR CROSSWHITE -The register is being maintained within the Commission by the Women's Sports Promotion Unit.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Who is going to have access to it?

MR CROSSWHITE -The access would probably be on a request, depending on what the interest was and what information was being sought.

SENATOR PUPLICK -The list of names of all of the people who are on the register: who would have access to that?

MR CROSSWHITE -I do not know specifically whether that has been decided, but I am assuming that it would be a very useful list for people, especially State groups or State associations which were wishing to promote greater involvement of girls and women in sport.

SENATOR PUPLICK -What about access for people who are trying to sell things to them?

MR CROSSWHITE -I doubt that that would be made accessible to those people.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Why not?

MR CROSSWHITE -We do not make available lists of our athletes, or other data, which would then encourage people to send them unsolicited material seeking to have them buy things.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Would you make it available to the Health Insurance Commission?

MR CROSSWHITE -I would not see why.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Say they wanted to do an analysis for statistical purposes of the health and fitness of people who are on the register.

MR BLUNN -The general policy is that they are not to be made available for other than the purpose for which they are obtained. I believe that would obtain within the Sports Commission, and I will certainly make sure that they are aware of that general policy.

SENATOR PUPLICK -What about, for instance, some quite proper and worthy academic who is doing a project on age distribution of women who are actively involved in sports in Australia?

MR BLUNN -It could be, but that would very much depend upon the conditions under which the information was compiled. If we had not made it clear that it would be made available in those sorts of circumstances, then generally it would not be made available. I only say generally: I cannot think of any cases where it has been, but I am nervous that there may have been one. Generally, you either make the qualification, at the time you gather the information, that it can be made available for certain purposes or you make it clear that it is confidential. I think in this case it is confidential, but I would need to check that.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Will you place on the register of sportswomen in Australia all of the ladies who are members of bowling clubs?

MR CROSSWHITE -All the bowling clubs?

SENATOR PUPLICK -Yes.

MR CROSSWHITE -The ladies in the bowling clubs? I do not know. I would have to ask the Women's Sports Promotion Unit that.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Why would there be any doubt on that? That is probably the most important and most widespread women's sport in Australia.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -Have you not heard of netball? We would outdo it by about 20 : 1, but go on.

MR CROSSWHITE -I can see no reason why they would not go on the list.

SENATOR PUPLICK -What was the response to the women in sport promotion program , the television community service announcement and the fact that every women' s magazine editor was contacted with regard to raising awareness of women in sport? What was the response to all of that?

MR CROSSWHITE -It was a very good response. We received numerous letters and contacts by telephone which were very supportive of that particular advertisement on the television and of the promotion program itself.

SENATOR PUPLICK -Does the Commission see it as its role to actually `redress the drop-out rate by teenage girls in sport'?

MR CROSSWHITE -The Commission believes it is its role to encourage adolescent girls to stay in sport and to address the drop-out rate. It is much higher than the male drop-out rate.

SENATOR PUPLICK -How much of your overall program is to be expended in terms of the women in sport program?

MR CROSSWHITE -In the coming year?

SENATOR PUPLICK -Yes, in the coming year.

MR CROSSWHITE -Mr Hobson will find that for you in a minute.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Would someone explain to me what is involved in the concept of elite sport? I thought the whole purpose of the Australian Institute of Sport was to develop elite capabilities. Why do we now have a subsection of elite sportsmen and women?

MR BLUNN -The issue is a bigger thing than the Institute of Sport. The Institute of Sport is concerned with elite sport, but the Sports Commission, of which the Institute is a part, covers a much wider field.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Do we have a separate budget for elitism?

MR CROSSWHITE -There are a number of areas. For instance, in coaching, in the brochures you referred to before, there is coaching assistance all the way up from the Aussie Sports level to the elite level. Within coaching, there is separate elite coaching. With athletes, there is an elite athletes development . So yes, within our programs there are separate areas to assist with elite sport.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Do you have a discrete budget for that?

MR CROSSWHITE -Within our programs, yes.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -How big is that budget?

MR CROSSWHITE -We will find that out for you.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Is it a rolling program like a FYDP?

MR BLUNN -No, it is not a FYDP-type system. It is an annual appropriation.

MR HOBSON -The answer to the question on elite sports is that this financial year we are expecting to expend $18.8m on elite sports. In answer to Senator Puplick's question on women in sport, it is $280,000.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -That $18.8m will be spent purely on coaching, will it?

MR HOBSON -No, it encompasses a range of areas, including residential sports and coaching.

MR CROSSWHITE -A sports talent encouragement program.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -What about the elite athletic education and employment program?

MR CROSSWHITE -That is a new program which we are establishing this year to assist athletes find employment which is suitable for their particular time commitment, and also educationally to help them with advice on what type of educational programs they should undertake and how to fit them into their overall training programs.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Are you paying the athletes?

MR CROSSWHITE -No, not yet.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Were you paying the employers to employ them?

MR CROSSWHITE -No. We are not doing that either.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -How do you decide who gets into the program and how do you decide which fields you will support for elite coaching?

MR CROSSWHITE -It is by sports. You are talking about who gets a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport?

SENATOR MACGIBBON -No. How do you decide to spend $Xm on a support program for elite coaching in a particular field?

MR CROSSWHITE -It depends on the particular sport that we are assisting. We receive applications from national sporting organisations. We assess those applications and determine their objectives, and also what performance levels they are expecting to meet, and then we fund them accordingly with an agreement with them of certain expectations-certain things we will provide and certain levels they will meet.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -There is a fixed number of activities that you support. You would not have an elite coaching program for lacrosse, would you?

MR CROSSWHITE -No. We do not have an elite system for that.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -It would be too bad if you had a good coach, though, and he wanted to develop a world team, would it not?

MR CROSSWHITE -No. Within the sports development program we fund the Australian Lacrosse Association and we may give them funding for an elite coaching program if they put it as a high priority and we feel it necessary.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -They bid for it?

MR CROSSWHITE -Yes, they make application for it.

CHAIRMAN -Are there any more questions for the Australian Sports Commission? No. Let us turn to tourism.