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Sport in Rural and Regional Australia

Prepared by: Greg Blood, Emeritus Researcher, Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)
Updated by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 25 May 2021
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Sport plays an important role in rural, regional, and remote Australia. It can bring communities together; contribute positively to community identity and sense of place; promote social interaction and inclusion; and, play an important role in providing opportunities for physical activity and improved health outcomes. Additionally, rural and regional Australian centres are increasingly hosting sporting events that provide economic stimulus and instil a sense of community pride.

Traditionally, these communities have also developed many of Australia's elite athletes due to their unique cultural characteristics and physical environments.

Governments at all levels, sporting organisations, and individuals can benefit from understanding the unique role that sport can have in these communities in order to better develop opportunities and achieve future goals.

Key messages

Sport participation

Sports participation in rural, remote, and regional Australian communities has been shown to improve social cohesion and population health outcomes.

Hosting events

Bidding for, and hosting, significant sporting events—individually or as part of a consortium of centres—is a strategy used by regional councils to gain an economic stimulus and to raise the public profile of their communities.

High performance

Some regional centres have produced a disproportionately high number of Australia’s most successful elite athletes.

Background

Defining rural, remote and regional Australia

There are several methods of defining rural, remote and regional Australia.

State of play

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that around 28% of Australians live in regional or remote communities.

Role of sport

Sport can play a positive role in increasing physical activity participation and improving broader health, wellbeing, and community outcomes for regional and remote communities.

Sport and physical activity participation

The National Sport Play, Sport 2030 (2018) highlights that people from regional areas are more likely to be physically inactive. One of the stated objectives of the plan is to focus on programs and initiatives that target inactive Australians across their life cycle regardless of gender, race, ability, geography and wealth.

Statistics

Participation in sport and/or physical activity in regional and remote communities.

Factors influencing participation

There are hundreds of factors that can influence sports participation or non-participation.

Facilities

State and local governments are primarily responsible for developing and maintaining sport facilities.

Events

Events are important for social cohesion, identity, and economic stimulus.

Sports injuries

Available studies suggests that incidence and severity may be greater in rural and regional areas.

Programs and practices

There are a number of published programs and practices from sports organisations, local and state governments designed to improve participation in rural and regional communities.

High performance sport

Rural and regional communities play an important role in developing high performance athletes.

Athlete pathways and development

Rural and regional communities play an important role in developing high performance athletes.

Regional Academies of Sport

Regional academies work to provide athlete support, training and competition opportunities for talented youth.

Sporting organisations

Many of the larger NSOs and their state partners fund athlete development programs in regional areas.

Is this information complete?

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