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Thursday, 3 June 2010
Page: 5286

Ms KATE ELLIS (Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare and Youth and Minister for Sport) (12:05 PM) —I would like to use this opportunity to talk specifically about the remarkable contributions that this federal budget makes towards sport. This budget delivers a record $1.2 billion for sport over the next four years, including $325 million in additional funding for the Australian Sports Commission and incorporating $195 million in new funding for sport. To put this in context and to make it very clear, what we have announced is the biggest single funding injection into Australian sport in our nation’s history. Unlike the previous government, our government will be providing long-awaited security to Australian sports as we signal the end to the previous government’s short-term bandaid solutions and provide another example where the government have delivered on our commitment to be a strong financial partner of sport.

Along with the record funding increase, on 11 May this year I released Australian Sport: The Pathway to Success, which provides a new vision for Australian sport that will help forge the way to a healthier community and a stronger sporting sector. I think it is important to note that the government has always made it clear that there is a need for us to better support sport and to help tackle emerging challenges in our society and also maintain our status as one of the world’s greatest sporting nations. We have understood from day one that sport is critical to the wellbeing and good health of our individuals; to bringing communities together; to teaching life skills; to uniting the nation; to sending positive reflections to the international community; to boosting trade, tourism and economic activity; and to giving moments of pure joy, pride and inspiration.

We are committed to strengthening sport, and we have outlined the process by which we will achieve this. I am really proud of our record in just over 2½ years in government, from last year investing the biggest ever injection into Australia’s community sporting infrastructure, as part of our response to the global financial crisis, to reforming the leadership of the Australian Sports Commission, to funding EuroHub to assist Australian athletes in their international endeavours, to working with Football Federation Australia, state and territory governments and sporting codes to lodge a fully compliant bid for the FIFA World Cup, to successfully legislating to put in place a strengthened anti-doping structure in the reformed ASADA, and introducing the Local Sporting Champions Program to better support our developing athletes—to name just a few initiatives.

Over the past decade, sport in Australia has been promised leadership and direction but, under the former government, report after report gathered dust on the shelf. I have read the Oakley report, which the former government heralded would be the biggest reform to sport in decades—but was left sitting on a shelf, not responded to and soon effectively forgotten. We as a government know the challenges that this has posed for sports and for the sports sector in this nation, as the previous government squandered the opportunities and the momentum that developed from the Sydney Olympics. That is why we committed to act. That is why, upon coming to government, we released our new directions paper, which outlined the crisis that sport was facing and the case for reform. We announced that we would appoint an independent panel to help direct the best way forward, and that is why, at the Olympics in 2008, the Prime Minister declared that our government would be strong financial partners of Australian sport into the future. And it is why, upon receiving the Crawford report, we publicly stated that we would increase funding to both community sport and elite sport. This year’s budget did just that. The funding announcement within it, along with the release of the government’s policy document, shows just how committed this government is, has been and always will be when it comes to backing Australian sport.

In terms of our high-performance athletes and systems, the government is committed to ensuring that Australia not only cements but builds on our reputation as a world leader in elite sport. In doing so, we will provide not only new money to support Australia’s talented sports men and women but also long-term stability for sport through locking in previously terminating funding into baseline funding going forward for sports budgets.

This equates to an additional $42 million of funding to support high-performance sport alone each and every year. This funding will ensure that our national talent identification program is doubled, broadening the net to uncover more of our potential champions and boosting the development pathway. It will provide further support to our high-performance coaches, because our government recognises just how important high-performance coaches are to our system. This investment will ensure that we retain as many of our high-performance coaches as possible. The government will also boost direct assistance to athletes, providing greater levels of financial support to an increased number of Australian athletes, assisting them and allowing them more flexibility to dedicate to their training.

In addition to this support, the government will underpin this investment through the recent landmark agreement between the Commonwealth, states and territories to establish the first national sport and recreation policy framework to help guide the development of sports policy across Australia. This agreement will better enable cooperation across the pathway, increasing the alignment of our institutes and academies of high-performance sport.

We know that sport is not just about supporting the dreams of our future champions; it is also about gaining opportunities and experiences. Australian sport should be bustling with children lining up to play their favourite sports, keeping healthy or just having fun. Sport should have a strong community and development sector, providing a pathway to keep all of us involved and active and to nurture our future champions as they develop. Our government has committed $18 million of new funding each and every year to strengthen our sporting system and increase participation and activity. The government is committed to working in partnership with sport to see a real increase in the number of Australians being active.

According to the OECD, Australia has the fifth-highest rate of adult obesity in the developed world. The dramatic increases in body weight that we have seen over recent years have already seen the number of Australians with diabetes triple over just the last two decades. And, according to ABS data, participation rates have stalled over the last decade amongst Australian children. We know that, during the 12 months to April 2009, one million children aged from five to 14 did not participate in any organised sport outside of school hours, with a higher proportion—some 44 per cent—of girls not participating in organised sports compared with 30 per cent of boys. In a recent survey, approximately 11.8 million Australians, or 73 per cent, reported no involvement in organised sport. In 2005-06, approximately 5.5 million people reported that they did not participate in any sports or physical recreation activities of any kind over the preceding year.

So, in order to reinvigorate re-engagement in sport amongst our community and to regain our competitive edge, we need to look at ways to do things differently. We need to place a strategic focus on collaboration, reform and investment across the entire sporting pathway, from the grassroots up. We want to work with sport to achieve this goal, because it is sports and national sporting organisations that already have the connections with state sporting organisations, local communities and state and local governments to support and grow sport at all levels.

In recognition of the essential role sports play in leading and growing the sporting base, the government, through the commission, will, for the first time, provide funding to national sporting organisations to provide direct assistance to community clubs and organisations in support of initiatives that aim to expand participation. This will be done through comprehensive participation plans that we, through the commission, will ask national sporting organisations to put in place about how they drive participation within sport and within their local communities. In addition, the government will double the Local Sporting Champions program to support 8,000 junior athletes to participate in competition and to boost opportunities for up-and-coming athletes to compete in domestic competitions.

Alarmingly, we have also seen a decrease in sport in our schoolyards. Despite there being an obvious partnership between sport and education, when it comes to achieving both health and educational outcomes in our children we have seen a decline in the quality of sport and physical activity being delivered in our primary and secondary schools. Whilst there has previously been a national requirement for schools to provide a minimum weekly allocation of two hours of physical activity, the requirement did not specify the level or intensity of activity required in line with health guidelines and did not provide any detailed information as to how physical activity was delivered or met.

The Australian government has announced our commitment, in partnership with the state and territory governments, to prioritise sport and physical education in our national school curriculum. In a landmark agreement, state and territory ministers agreed in response to the Crawford report that the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority prioritise physical education in the development of phase 3 of the national curriculum and further agreeing that the number of hours committed to physical activity in the school curriculum must be maximised. Getting sport right in schools will not only help tackle the serious health issues that we face as a community but also help sport tap into Australia’s sporting talent on an unprecedented level.

It is important that we recognise that sport in Australia is largely dependent on the volunteer and that Australia has a proud history of volunteering. Who could forget the worldwide recognition of those volunteers who helped make the Sydney Olympics ‘the best Olympics ever’? Whether it be the volunteer coaches or officials who help run our local sporting competitions, this government recognises just how important these volunteers are to sport and to the broader community. In this budget, we will provide funding to support volunteer coaches and officials and those volunteers who play such a remarkable role in sporting clubs across the nation. This funding will provide additional coaching and officiating training opportunities for up to 45,000 community coaches and officials, including subsidies for the costs associated with training for 5,000 new community coaches and officials.

In addition, we will provide funding support to national sporting organisations to deliver coaching and officiating education programs, especially in regional areas, deliver funding to support mentoring to community coaches and officials, deliver a national sport volunteer strategy and introduce a national sports volunteers awards program to reward those volunteers and promote their contribution to sport and the wider community.

We also believe that sport has a unique capacity to bring communities together. But sport needs to be more conclusive and a sector which better reflects our diversity—and that means both genders. Our government has great ambitions for women’s sport, both on and off the field. One of our biggest challenges, of course, is getting women seen, heard and supported by our media so that we can end what seems to be the never-ending cycle of no media coverage equalling no resources for women’s sport. Recently we released the report Towards a level playing field, which reveals that in 2008 coverage of women in sport made up just nine per cent of all sports coverage in Australian television news and current affairs. On the other hand, male sport occupied a whopping 81 per cent of television news and current affairs reporting and 86 per cent of non-news programming on television. To put this in context—the nine per cent of coverage dedicated to women’s sport—horseracing alone receives more airtime than all women’s sports combined in Australian television news.

I am really proud of the steps that we have taken so far to address these issues and to help promote women within sport. Over our 2½ years in government we have undertaken several measures including a $2.4 million investment to Netball Australia to support the transTasman netball competition, $400,000 to support and promote the free-to-air coverage of this wonderful championship and also delivery of funding over four years to the Football Federation of Australia, which included the condition that they support a televised women’s Westfield W-League. In support of raising the profile of women’s sport and as a result of the funding included in this measure I can announce that we will also be funding Women in Sport awards to recognise exemplary initiatives, which provide special support for women’s and girls’ participation in sport whether as players, coaches, administrators or officials, and to recognise and reward outstanding media reporting.

The culture of sport itself is long overdue for a significant shake-up and we have signalled that this is exactly what we intend to do. Our government will require all national sporting organisations to annually report on the gender representation of their boards with the information then being published. Too often we have heard excuses about the frequently dismal representation of women on sporting boards such as, for example: ‘If there were women with the appropriate skills then of course we’d appoint them.’ Well our government is happy to work with sports to help them find these women.

I was pleased to announce that the government will establish a register of women with appropriate skills and experience to assist sport to improve their record. The Women in Sport register will enable women to register their skills and interest in being involved in sport and sporting organisations can readily access potential candidates and find a match to their needs. This initiative is not only about growing the number of women on Australia’s sporting boards, it is also about working from within to promote healthy cultures in Australian sport and that requires women.

Labor governments have a fine tradition when it comes to supporting sport. It was under Labor and under Hawke that we established the Australian Sports Commission. It was Labor under Keating who gave sport, up until this budget, the record funding boost to prepare us for the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games. While both these governments injected significant resources into sport they also drove innovation and reform, putting in place the foundations for Australia’s future sporting success.

In this budget we proudly build upon this tradition. Through renewed focus and strategy, enhanced partnerships across tiers of government, a close cooperative approach with our sporting organisations and the biggest increase to sports funding in Australia’s history, we map out the course for Australia’s continued sporting excellence. Of course the implementation of this strategy will require a dedicated partnership approach. We as a government are committed to this because, ultimately, we recognise that sport is important and we need to work to keep it as the strong central thread that it has become to Australian life.

The success of sport cannot be measured in simplistic terms alone. We need a bolstered participation base, we need strengthened development pathways and we need successful elite performances if we are to cement our place as a truly great sporting nation. I am really pleased with the contributions that this budget has made to achieve these goals with a record funding increase; the biggest amount of funding ever dedicated to sport in this country in our nation’s history.