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Structure of Australian Sport

The Australian sport and active recreation sector has many players and moving parts. It is strongly influenced by other leading service sectors including government, community, education, health, retail, media and broadcast, tourism, and entertainment.

It can be difficult to see where the sport sector begins and ends—particularly when you consider intersecting themes such as active and outdoor recreation, fitness, physical activity, and preventative health. However, the structure of sport in Australia can provide insight into how the sector connects and operates from a peak national to local grassroots level.

Key messages

Federated structure

The system of federalism (that is, Australia's Commonwealth constitutional system governing its federated states and territories), strongly influences how the Australian sport and active recreation sector is structured.

Public investment

In 2015 Australian governments (Federal, state/territory, and local) invested AU$1.9b in sport at all levels—investing in community participation, high performance, infrastructure, major events, and building a robust sports industry.

Community driven

Community sport and active recreation clubs play a pivotal role in making physical activity opportunities accessible to all Australians. In 2020/21 more than 12.8m Australian adults (15+) and 3.5m children participated in organised sport and recreation activities.


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.

System governance map – sport and active recreation

System governance map


Commonwealth Minister for Sport Commonwealth Ministers
Department of Health Commonwealth Government Departments
(example: Education, Tourism, Environment)
Australian Sports Commission
Australian Sports Foundation
Sport Integrity Australia
National Sports Tribunal
State and Territory Ministers for Sport and Recreation State and Territory Ministers
State and Territory Departments / Offices of Sport and Recreation State and Territory Government Departments
(example: Education, Tourism, Environment)
State and 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, Fitness Australia 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 and higher education institutions Active recreation clubs, commercial providers, municipalities, community groups
(example: YMCA, PCYC, parkrun)
The sport & recreation community
(example: Participants, coaches, officials, administrators, spectators, 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 bodies

Australian 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 (SIS/SAS).

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.

Peak advocacy and professional bodies

Confederation of Australian Sport (CAS)
An independent, not-for-profit industry voice committed to promoting the contribution of community sport.

Community Sport Australia
Represents issues affecting community sport and active recreation in Australia.

Women Sport Australia (WSA)
The peak national advocacy organisation for women in sport.

Outdoor Council of Australia (OCA)
Represents issues affecting outdoor recreation and education in Australia.

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.

International practice

International peak sports organisations
Working to deliver international sporting competitions and growth.

International sport systems
Examples and comparisons between different international sport systems.

Further resources and reading

Related Topics

Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 03 February 2022
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer


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