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Structure of Australian Sport

The structure of sport in Australia can provide insight into how the sector connects and operates from a national to local grassroots level.

Australian governments at all levels play a leading role in delivering sport and sport related policies and programs. This includes providing support and funding to sporting organisations, clubs, and individuals; being major investors and contributors to building and maintaining sports related infrastructure; and sponsoring the hosting of major sports events.

Australian sporting organisations and sports clubs—many operating as not-for-profit entities—play a pivotal role in the delivery of sport.

Other significant contributors to the sector include schools and universities; peak sports bodies and advocacy groups; participants, whether in a playing, coaching, officiating, or administrative capacity (in a paid or volunteer basis); retailers of sporting goods and equipment; media, publishing and news agencies; health, fitness, and medical practitioners; and many other service providers, organisations, and community groups.

The Australian sports industry is estimated to support 128,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. Additionally, around 3 million Australians volunteer in sport each year, making it the largest volunteer cohort across all sectors. 1, 2, 3

System governance map – sport and active recreation

System governance map


Commonwealth Minister for Sport Other Commonwealth Ministers
Department of Health & Aged Care Other Commonwealth Government Departments
(example: education, tourism, environment)
Australian Sports Commission (& AIS)
Australian Sports Foundation
Sport Integrity Australia
National Sports Tribunal
State & Territory Ministers for Sport & Recreation Other State & Territory Ministers
State & Territory Departments / Offices of Sport & Recreation Other State & Territory Government Departments
(example: education, tourism, environment)
State & Territory Institutes & Academies of Sport Venue Management Trusts
Australian Local Government Associations
State Local Government Associations
Local Government
(example: Councils across Australia)


National Peak Advocacy & Representative Bodies for Sport
(example: WSA, COMPPS, AAA, CAS)
National Sport Delivery
(Example: NSOs, Professional/Elite Sport)
National Peak Advocacy & Representative Bodies for Active Recreation
(example: PLA, AUSactive ACHPER)
National Industry Specialist Organisations / Committees (example: AOC, PA, CGA, SMA, ANZSLA, ESSA)
State & Territory Peak Advocacy & Representative Bodies for Sport
(Example: Vicsport, WASF, Sport NSW)
State & Territory Sport Delivery
(example: Regional Academies, SSOs)
State & Territory Peak Advocacy & Representative Bodies for Active Recreation
(example: Outdoors WA, VicHealth)
State & Territory Industry Specialist Organisations / Committees (example: State Olympic Councils)
Sports clubs, schools & higher education institutions Active recreation clubs, commercial providers, municipalities, community groups
(example: YMCA, PCYC, parkrun)
The sport & recreation community
(example: players, coaches, officials, administrators, spectators, fans, volunteers)

Government entities

Federal government
The Australian Government is committed to supporting sport in Australia from grassroots to elite.

State and territory governments
State and Territory governments develop and implement community sport and recreation and talent pathway policies and programs.

Local governments
Local governments across Australia play a significant role in supporting community sport.

High performance

Peak sporting bodies
Working to deliver international sporting success.

National Institute Network (NIN)
Comprises the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and the eight State and Territory Institutes and Academies of Sport.

Regional academies of sport
Providing additional athlete support and training/competition opportunities for talented youth.

Sporting organisations

National Sporting Organisations (NSOs)
Developing sport from community participation to high performance levels.

State Sporting Organisations (SSOs)
Responsible for developing their sport from community participation to high performance levels in their respective jurisdiction.

Advocacy and professional bodies

Advocacy organisations
Organisations promoting and supporting sports interests.

Professional and specialist organisations
Organisations for specific sport and recreation interests.

Community sector

Sport and active recreation clubs
Sport and active recreation clubs make sport accessible to the Australian community.

School sport
Schools play a very important role in making sport accessible to children and young people.

University sport
Tertiary education providers play an important role in delivering sport across the Australian sport sector.

Preventive health and fitness
The fitness industry plays a significant role in the sport and active recreation sector in Australia.

  1. Sports Industry Economic Analysis: Exploring the size and growth of the sport industry in Australia, KPMG for the Office for Sport, Department of Health, (March 2020)
  2. AusPlay report: non-playing roles and volunteering, Australian Sports Commission, (accessed 8 March 2024).
  3. Volunteers, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, (7 September 2023).
  4. Australian Government Sports Ecosystem Rapid Review, Proximity, (December 2022).
  5. Brain Boost: How sport and physical activity enhance children’s learning, what the research is telling us, Smith J, Government of Western Australia, Department of Sport and Recreation (2015).
  6. The longitudinal study of Australian children: 2012 Annual Report: Chapter 9, How engaged are children in organised sport and other physical activity during their late primary school years? Mullan K and Maguire B, Growing up in Australia, Australian Institute of Family Studies, (2013).
  7. Barriers to voluntary participation in sport for children: a systematic review, Sarah Somerset and Derek J. Hoare, BMC Pediatrics, Volume 18, article 47, (February 2018).
  8. AusPlay: Fitness/Gym Report, Australian Sports Commission, (accessed 19 March 2024).
  9. 2022-2023 Annual Report, AUSactive, (2023).

Related Topics

Last updated: 19 March 2024
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