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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: 14 October 2020
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Sport plays an important role in rural, regional, and remote Australia. It can bring regional communities together; contribute positively to community identity and sense of place; promote social interaction and community 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.


Sport and physical activity participation

One of the stated aims of the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework (2011) is to improve participation outcomes to targeted populations which includes rural and remote populations.

High performance sport

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

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