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Community Affairs Legislation Committee - 22/10/2014 - Estimates - HEALTH PORTFOLIO - Australian Sports Commission

Australian Sports Commission

[22:42]

Senator BILYK: I want to ask some questions of the Australian Sports Commission. I understand that the AIS has launched a new logo. Can you just outline for the committee what the logo represents.

Mr Hollingsworth : Yes, I can.

Senator BILYK: Would you like a pretty copy of one I prepared earlier?

Mr Hollingsworth : No, thank you. The background to the logo is that the Australian Sports Commission, through our high-performance strategy delivered by the AIS, is around changing its approach to high-performance sport. I guess the best way to summarise it is taking a more national approach. The new logo is an abstract representation of Australia—that is one aspect of it. The second is that it represents gold, which is the aspiration of why we are investing in athletes to achieve success on the international stage. The third aspect is that it has a ribbon representing the dynamism of sport and, I guess, the lanes of a track or a swimming pool. The five streams represent our top 5 target at the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Senator BILYK: Where will I find my home state of Tasmania on that if it represents Australia and it is a national approach?

Mr Hollingsworth : As a Tasmanian myself—

Senator BILYK: I understand. I am surprised it has got through this far.

Mr Hollingsworth : The logo was not intended to be an exact geographical representation of Australia; it is an abstract—

Senator BILYK: But it does, doesn't it? It is very clear that that represents the rest of Australia, no Tasmania. Once again, Tasmania is left off the map. I just think that is atrocious, and it has attracted a lot of attention in Tasmania. You may well scoff, but this happens time and time again.

CHAIR: I wouldn't dare scoff.

Unidentified speaker: It is 1988 all over again.

CHAIR: I wouldn't dare scoff, Senator Bilyk. You have 12 senators to look out for—

Senator BILYK: Tasmania had seven people represented in the recent Commonwealth Games. We got a gold, a silver and two bronze out of that. It is high time that people started—

Unidentified speaker: Did we?

Senator BILYK: Yes, we did—we did, because Tasmanians generally stick together—and I think it is high time that people started taking Tasmania seriously. People from Tasmania have rung my office and Senator Brown's office, although she is not here at the moment, and there is genuine annoyance about it. So how did this logo come about? Was there a focus group? Was there some market research?

Mr Hollingsworth : Absolutely. There was significant market research—

Senator BILYK: No Tasmanians involved, though?

CHAIR: Except the fellow making the decision! Sorry.

Senator BILYK: Sorry, who?

CHAIR: My apologies, Senator Bilyk.

Senator BILYK: I presume I probably did not want to hear that.

CHAIR: Quite possibly.

Senator BILYK: No Tasmanians in the focus group or in the market research?

Mr Hollingsworth : Absolutely. In fact, I was part of a focus group and, as I said, I am a proud Tasmanian—

Senator BILYK: Well, how did you leave Tasmania off it?

Mr Hollingsworth : and I did represent Australia on a couple of occasions and—

Senator BILYK: I understand that, Mr Hollingsworth. But how did you leave Tasmania off that logo?

Senator SMITH: When we fix GST distribution reform, Tasmania goes back to—

Senator BILYK: You are wasting the very limited time I have! And I know Senator Peris has questions as well. Can you tell me how much the design of the logo cost?

Mr Hollingsworth : The total for the design and background work and the commercial that we did was around $230,000.

Senator BILYK: $230,000 and they cannot even get all the states and territories of Australia represented.

Mr Hollingsworth : As I said, it is an abstract representation open to interpretation—

Senator BILYK: What type of tender arrangement was used?

Mr Hollingsworth : I beg your pardon?

Senator BILYK: What was the tender arrangement that was used for the design of the logo?

Mr Hollingsworth : We went to a tender process with a number of providers. We used two different providers. One provided the analytics around the commercial aspects of the design and change of the logo to generate more commercial partners for the Australian Institute of Sport—we have a number of commercial partners. The overwhelming feedback, not just from commercial partners but also from athletes and sports, was that the old logo did not adequately represent Australia. You may—

Senator BILYK: No, no, I saw that. But the old logo did not show other states and territories; it was someone with their hands above their head as though they had won a medal or done something like that.

Mr Hollingsworth : Again, that original logo is an abstract representation of an athlete finishing with a victory salute above their head. But it is an abstract representation—

Senator BILYK: Who made the final decision on the logo, then?

Mr Hollingsworth : The final decision was made, effectively, by the executive of the commission, although it did go through the board for endorsement and their consideration as well.

Senator BILYK: How many programs within the commission have appointed PR companies since the beginning of the year?

Mr Hollingsworth : Sorry; how many—

Senator BILYK: How many programs within the commission have had PR companies appointed to do stuff with them since the beginning of the year?

Mr Hollingsworth : I will have to take that question on notice.

Senator BILYK: Okay—and for what purpose, their context, as well.

Mr Hollingsworth : Certainly.

Senator BILYK: Obviously, it is a bit of a joke to other people, but to Tasmanians it is really not a joke; they are quite disappointed. The other thing I quickly want to talk about is the Commonwealth Games swimming uniforms. Can you people talk to me about that?

Mr Hollingsworth : The Commonwealth Games uniforms?

Senator BILYK: Yes, the uniforms.

Mr Hollingsworth : That is entirely a matter for the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, so I would not be able to answer questions on that.

Senator BILYK: Nobody in the department can help at all in regard to that?

Unidentified speaker: It is a separate organisation.

Senator BILYK: Because once again—you know what I am going to say, don't you?

Unidentified speaker: It is a non-government organisation.

Senator BILYK: No Tasmania on the uniform. Maps of the rest of Australia, no Tasmania.

CHAIR: There is a pattern here! There is a pattern.

Senator SMITH: There is a conspiracy here—you are quite right—because the Bicentennial logo did not have Tasmania on it either!

Senator BILYK: I am going to finish there and hand over to Senator Peris, because I know she has questions.

CHAIR: I will go to Senator Peris, from the great territory of the Northern Territory.

Senator PERIS: There's no Tiwi Islands there!

Senator BILYK: That is right!

CHAIR: Would you like to ask some questions about that?

Senator PERIS: Yes, I would! In which term of 2015 will the Sporting Schools program commence?

Mr Hollingsworth : It will commence in term 1. It will not be fully rolled out in term 1; we are going to pilot with a number of sports with a view to having it fully implemented by the middle of the year as we transition from the AASC.

Senator PERIS: When you say term 1, would that just be getting the staffing in?

Mr Hollingsworth : No, it includes partnering with the sports that are ready to deliver the program. If you are familiar with the different design and implementation of the program, effectively, we are asking sports and local clubs to play a greater role in partnership with schools to deliver the program into schools twice a week for a term. So we obviously need to work with sports that have the capability to do that, and we are going to start with a select number of sports—I think the number is 10—and then build from there.

Senator PERIS: Ten sports?

Mr Hollingsworth : That is right, which does not mean that they will be the only sports offered for children to participate in during school, but they will be the sports that we will be trialling the new model with.

Senator PERIS: Predominantly, what you are saying is that the first part of the year will be working out the partnerships. Which actual term will the delivery of the program—

Mr Hollingsworth : It will start in term 1 of 2015, yes.

Senator PERIS: What will be the number of staff employed through Sporting Schools?

Mr Hollingsworth : The staffing?

Senator PERIS: Yes.

Mr Hollingsworth : Within the Sports Commission?

Senator PERIS: Well, delivering the program?

Mr Hollingsworth : The total staffing profile for the Sporting Schools will be in the vicinity of between 80 and 90 full-time equivalent staff. Some of those will be based in Canberra, but the majority will be based right around Australia.

Senator PERIS: How does that compare to the active after-school program?

Mr Hollingsworth : The active after-school program had a full-time equivalent staffing of 175. Obviously, as we move closer to 1 January, that is now reducing. The current staffing is 146, and, as I said, it will move to around 80 to 90 by 1 January.

Senator PERIS: So, in terms of the recruitment of the Sporting Schools staff, how is that being handled? Will the active after-school staff be required to automatically transition? Will redundancies be offered? How will it all be managed?

Mr Hollingsworth : All of the Active After-school Communities staff were on fixed-term contracts which finished on 31 December this year. There are obviously a lesser number of roles that are available for staff. We are running a very transparent and equitable process to provide people with an opportunity to express an interest in a particular position. Interviews are being conducted at the moment, and staff that are successful will obviously secure those positions. Priority is being given to staff within the existing program.

Senator PERIS: In relation to the recently announced $400,000 grant program to encourage women into coaching, can you give a brief explanation of the program, and when will it commence?

Mr Hollingsworth : The program has been running for a number of years. We do it in partnership with the Office for Women in the Prime Minister's department, so it is co-funded. It is basically a scholarship program for an opportunity for women to be involved and develop their skills in sport. There are a variety of different opportunities: it could be engaging with professional development opportunities, or secondments into sporting organisations. It depends on the nature of the opportunities.

Senator PERIS: You are saying that it has been rolled out for a number of years. Is it the same amount annually that was previously rolled out?

Mr Hollingsworth : I can confirm that it is the same amount this year as last year. I do not have the information about that. I can take that one on notice.

Senator PERIS: Thank you. Are you aware of the numbers of applications that have been received?

Mr Hollingsworth : Yes.

Senator PERIS: And awarded?

Mr Hollingsworth : Applications are closed, I understand, either today or tomorrow. So we may have the application number—I do not think that I have that information; I will have to take it on notice. It has not been awarded yet.

Senator PERIS: Can you provide a complete breakdown of all the grants programs aimed specifically at women in sport that have been announced and commenced during the period of the Abbott government?

Mr Hollingsworth : In terms of new announcements?

Senator PERIS: Yes. Collectively or together, what is new and what is existing?

Mr Hollingsworth : Obviously, the most significant way we invest in women in sport is through our grants to NSOs. They have continued and been maintained in both high performance and participation. We are also investing in women in sport through the direct athlete support system, which is now called dAIS. In fact, the government, through the Sports Commission, has increased that funding to $12 million per annum for the 2014-15 year, which is $1.6 million higher than the previous year. In many ways it is hard to differentiate. They are not specific women-in-sport programs, but the beneficiaries are significantly women. For example, at least 50 per cent of the recipients of dAIS funding are female athletes. In fact, the Sports Commission is by far and away the biggest investor in women in sport. The government is continuing the women's sport leadership program, as you mentioned. We also maintain a women's register for females interested in being on sports boards, and it is continuing as well.

Senator PERIS: How is that going? Is that on the increase?

Mr Hollingsworth : There are some very positive developments in some of our sports. In terms of increases in representation of women on boards, athletics—a sport you know well, Senator—has increased its female board representation to 44 per cent; hockey is 55 per cent; and sailing is 38 per cent. So there have been some increases. Basketball and cycling have also both increased over the past six months. There have been some positive developments, partly through the register and also through the Sports Commission promoting more women being involved in boards.

Senator PERIS: When you were talking about direct athlete support, athletes in the high performance range can now apply directly to the Sports Commission. Was it previously through their respective sports?

Mr Hollingsworth : It is not quite that way. The way that the dAIS, or the direct athletes support, works is that each sport nominates the athletes that they believe are eligible under the criteria for support for dAIS payments, and it is done twice annually. We work closely with the sports; we believe that is important. A moderating panel comprises representatives from sports from the AIS. I believe there are also representatives from the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, the Olympic Committee and the Paralympic Committee. A determination is then made.

The new criteria are focused on a number of quantitative measurable elements, including world ranking; but there are some qualitative aspects as well in terms of emerging talent, which is a new aspect of the dAIS. Part of the restructure that has been announced is really focused on making sure that we are supporting athletes who are in the top 10 in the world and making sure that they are getting the right support but also recognising that there are athletes who sit outside the top 10 who do need some support to make that step up over time. We have created a new category of athlete called 'emerging athletes', which is a fantastic investment that ensures we invest in the short term, the four-year cycle, and the eight-year cycle as well.

Senator PERIS: Emerging athletes is a new scheme?

Mr Hollingsworth : This is a new category within dAIS. Under the old scheme, if you were ranked one to 10 in the world, you were eligible for a payment, depending on whether you were one to five or six to 10. Now we have changed that to reduce it to eligibility which is generally the top eight in the world, which aligns better with the realities of many of the sports in terms of what it takes to make a final. It has enabled us through increased investment and some reallocation of funds to expand the reach to athletes outside the top 10, who are younger and developing. There are different payments, obviously, depending on the level of where the athlete is at.

CHAIR: Senator Peris, a final question.

Senator PERIS: Okay. On that, in a situation like a Melissa Breen, for example, who last year was not ranked in the top 10 but who was an emerging athlete, she was not eligible for that, but she could be eligible for this process now?

Mr Hollingsworth : It would depend on a number factors. It is difficult to comment on an individual athlete. Melissa Breen is a tremendous athlete—Australia's fastest woman. Obviously, her funding from the sport, from Athletics Australia, has attracted some attention. It would really come down to the moderating panel to determine where her profile is. Under the emerging talent athlete category she may be eligible, but that would depend on a range of factors.

CHAIR: We started with Tasmania and we have finished with a great Canberra athlete. Mr Hollingsworth, thank you very much for your time. Thank you, Minister, for your time. We thank you, Mr Bowles, and please pass on our thanks to all your officials. I apologise to ASADA and to some of the other agencies who were asked to be here but who have not been called. Senators should reflect on these things from time to time—but we will leave that there. I do apologise; but thank you very much for your time.

Committee adjourned at 23 : 00