Structure of Australian Sport

Structure of Australian Sport

Prepared by : Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
Reviewed by network : Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN), May 2019
Last updated : 27 May 2020
Content disclaimer : See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer
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, and 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 some 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

    Australian governments (Federal, State/Territory, and Local) invest over AU$1.3b annually in sport at all levels—investing in community participation, 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. More than 5.4m Australian adults (15+) and 2.4m children participate in organised sport and recreation activities annually.


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 across the sector.

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.

Finally, organised or otherwise, sport is very much community based in Australia. The many benefits of sport participation to individuals and communities is well documented. 

Sport sector governance

Sport 2030 (PDF  - 712 KB), Commonwealth of Australia, (2018). Informed by a comprehensive consultation process, Sport 2030 is Australia’s first national sport plan — and represents the Australian Government’s long-term commitment to seeing Australian sport thrive. Sport 2030 is the vision and the plan for sport and physical activity in Australia over the next 12 years to be delivered in partnership with Australia’s sporting, physical activity, technology, education and corporate community. The strategic priorities are:
  • Build a more active Australia — More Australians, more active, more often;
  • Achieving sporting excellence — National pride, inspiration and motivation through international sporting success;
  • Safeguarding the integrity of sport — A fair, safe and strong sport sector free from corruption; and
  • Strengthening Australia’s sport industry — A thriving Australian sport and recreation industry.

          Please visit the National Sports Plan website to learn more. 

          More information about current and historical sport policy in Australia is available in the Clearinghouse Australian Sport Policy topic.

          The Recreation Minister's Council was established in 1973 to provide a forum for Australian governments to discuss sport and recreation issues  This group has evolved into the current 'Meeting of Sport and Recreation Ministers' (MSRM). The MSRM is comprised of the Federal and State/Territory Ministers responsible for sport and recreation. It provides a forum for cooperation and coordination on matters relating to the development of sport and recreation in Australia, with a particular focus on match fixing, sport integrity, sport participation, and water safety. 

          For further information, please refer to About Sport on the Australian Government Department of Health website.

          The Committee of Australian Sport and Recreation Officials (CASRO) supports the MSRM by preparing advice and discussing and responding to tasks referred by the MSRM. CASRO's objectives and functions are to:

          • Actively promote a nationally collaborative approach to sport and active recreation, which aligns with the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework.
          • Progress the agreed key priorities as set out in the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework.
          • Identify new and progress existing sport and active recreation initiatives of national significance.
          • Contribute to whole of government objectives by participating in other forums where these objectives are progressed.
          • Progress the sharing of information between the governments of the Commonwealth, states and territories and New Zealand.
          • Carry out special projects to support coordination including use of Consultancy Funds.

          CASRO member organisations include:

          For further information, please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health, About Sport.

          System governance map – sport and active recreation



          Committee of
          Australian sport &
          Recreation Officials

          Aus. Local Gov. Assoc.
          State Local Gov. Assoc.

          Commonwealth Minister
          for Sport

          Department of Health

          Australian Sports Commission
          (includes AIS & Sport Australia)

          Aus. Sports Foundation
          Sport Integrity Aus.
          Aus. Sports Drug Medical Advisory

          Commonwealth Ministers

          Government Departments

          (Example: Education,
          Tourism, Environment

          State & Territory Ministers
          for Sport/Recreation

          State & Territory Ministers

          State & Territory
          Departments/Offices of

          State & Territory
          Government Departments

          (Example: Education,
          Tourism, Environment

          State & Territory
          Institutes &
          Academies of


          Local Government
          (Example: Councils across Australia)

          National Peak
          Advocacy &
          Bodies for Sport

          (Example: WSA,
          COMPPS, AAA

          National Sport

          (Example: NSOs,

          National Peak
          Advocacy &
          Bodies for Active

          (Example: PLA,
          Fitness Australia

          National Industry
          Organisations /

          (Example: AOC,
          PA, CGA, SMA,
          ANZSLA, ESSA

          State & Territory
          Peak Advocacy &
          Bodies for Sport

          (Example: VicSport,
          WASF, Sport NSW

          State & Territory
          Sport Delivery

          (Example: Regional
          Academies, SSOs

          State & Territory
          Peak Advocacy &
          Bodies for Active

          (Example: Outdoors
          WA, VicHealth

          State & Territory
          Industry Specialist
          Organisations /

          (Example: State
          Olympic Councils

          Sports clubs, schools and higher
          education institutions

          Active recreation clubs, commercial
          providers, municipalities, community

          (Example: YMCA, PCYC, parkrun)

          The Sport and Recreation Community
          (Example: Participants, coaches, officials, administrators, spectators, volunteers)

          * based on the System Governance Map from the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework (2011) p.9

          Government entities

          Department of Health

          Office for Sport. The Australian Government is committed to supporting sport in Australia from grassroots to elite, including: increasing participation in physical and recreational activities to promote physical and mental health; staging world class major sporting events; and utilising sport as a vehicle to address disadvantage and social inclusion challenges. This commitment encourages greater participation in sport by all Australians and contributes to a competitive and clean Australian sports sector, based on the pursuit of excellence, integrity and leadership.

          Sport Australia

          Sport Australia is the operating brand name of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), a Commonwealth entity within the Australian Government’s Department of Health Portfolio. The ASC was established in 1985 and operates under the Australian Sports Commission Act 1989. It is governed by a board of commissioners appointed by the Australian Government. The board determines the overall direction, decides on actual allocation of resources and policy for delegated decisions, and is accountable to the Minister for Sport and to Parliament.

          In 2015 Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission) developed the 'Governance Reform in Sport Discussion Paper' (PDF  -  399 KB) to explore statements of better practice which may inform future updates to the 'Sports Governance Principles' (PDF  - 670 KB), [Australian Sports Commission, (March 2012)] and the 'Mandatory Sports Governance Principles' (PDF  - 1.2 MB), [Australian Sports Commission, (June 2015)]. 

          In response to the Discussion Paper almost 600 people attended forums around Australia, representing 235 sporting organisations and 31 other sports bodies. An additional 32 written submissions were received. The Governance Reform in Sport report (PDF  - 223 KB), [Australian Sports Commission, (June 2016)] provides insight into the future of sport governance based on the feedback recieved.  

          Sport Integrity Australia

          From 1 July 2020, Sport Integrity Australia will facilitate a single nationally coordinated organisation to address all sport integrity issues. The agency incorporates the functions previously performed by the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA), the National Integrity Unit (NISU), and the national sports integrity functions of Sport Australia. In May 2020 David Sharpe, CEO of ASADA, was appointed to be the CEO of Sport Integrity Australia.

          The organisation’s remit is to provide advice and assistance to counter:

          • Use of prohibited substances and methods in sport.
          • Abuse of children and other persons in a sporting environment.
          • Manipulation of sporting competitions.
          • Failure to protect members of sporting organisations and other persons in a sporting environment from bullying, intimidation, discrimination or harassment.

          The agency will focus on policy development, intelligence, investigations (primarily of doping cases), and education, outreach and capability building and will continue to function as Australia's National Anti-Doping Organisation.

          Initial legislation to create Sport Integrity Australia was introduced to the Australian Parliament in 2019.

          • National Sports Tribunal Act 2019. An Act to establish the National Sports Tribunal, and for related purposes. (Date of assent: 19 September 2019). 
            • National Sports Tribunal Bill 2019. Introduced with the National Sports Tribunal (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019 to implement certain recommendations of the Report of the Review of Australia's Sports Integrity Arrangements (the Wood review), the bill provides for the establishment and operation of the National Sports Tribunal as an independent specialist tribunal for the hearing and resolution of sporting disputes. 
          • Australian Sports Anti‑Doping Authority Act 2006. This compilation includes commenced amendments made by Act No. 69, 2019. Amendments made by Act No. 11, 2020 have not commenced but are noted in the endnotes.
          • The Government Response to the Wood ReviewAustralian Department of Health, (accessed 30 April 2019). In August 2017 then Federal Minister for Sport, the Hon Greg Hunt, announced a review into the integrity of Australian sport as part of the development of the Government's National Sport Plan. The review, led by the Hon James Wood AO QC, examined national and international integrity threats and future challenges, including the rise of illegal offshore wagering, match-fixing, and doping in sport. Additionally, it considered the merits of establishing a dedicated national sports integrity commission. Establishing Sport Integrity Australia will provide a single Commonwealth centre of excellence and point of reference for all stakeholders, right across the sports integrity spectrum.
          • Safeguarding the Integrity of Australian SportAustralian Government media release, (4 April 2019). The Minister for Sport, Senator Bridget McKenzie announced the introduction of the bill into Parliament to establish Sport Integrity Australia.  

          Australian Sports Drug Medical Advisory Committee (ASDMAC)

          ASDMAC was established under section 52 of the ASADA Act and clause 5 of the NAD scheme. ASDMAC provides approval for therapeutic use of prohibited substances to certain athletes. ASDMAC performs its functions in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code), the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions, the ASADA Act, and the NAD scheme. 

          Australian Sports Foundation (ASF)

          ASF was established by the Federal Government in 1986 with the mission to raise money for Australian sport. They are the only organisation that can provide a tax deduction for donations to sport across Australia. As a deductible gift recipient (DGR) the ASF have a special listing in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Subdivision 30-B, s30-90).

          State and Territory governments develop and implement policies and programs with a focus on community sport and active recreation participation, sports facility and infrastructure development, and high performance sport and talent pathway development.

          Since the early 1980’s State and Territory governments have established their own institutes and academies of sport to assist their high performance athletes. A number of regional academies for sport, primarily servicing talented young athletes, have also been established in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

          New South Wales (NSW)

          New South Wales (NSW)

          Northern Territory (NT)

          Queensland (QLD)

          Victoria (VIC)

          Western Australia (WA)

          Local governments across Australia play a significant role in supporting community sport. This support includes facilitating a range of business development resources, providing funding to clubs and individuals, building and maintaining sports related infrastructure, and sponsoring the hosting of local sports events.

          Building a close working relationship with local government is an important step for all sporting and active recreation organisations, especially when planning for new facilities and services.

          • Be Active WA (Physical Activity Taskforce). A whole of local government approach should be a philosophy that is incorporated within the council’s strategic direction and all relevant operational areas, ensuring physical activity is integrated into existing planning and decision making processes.
          • Regional Sport Victoria (RSV). The peak body which supports nine independent organisations across regional Victoria. These nine organisations are classed as Regional Sports Assemblies (RSAs) and are charged with the critical role of supporting the sport and recreation sector within their regional catchment. RSV and the nine RSAs work directly with 48 local government authorities in Victoria. RSV covers a population of over 1.45 million rural and regional Victorians and has a network of over 8,500 community based sport and recreation clubs.
          • Working with local government: A guide for sport and recreation organisations (PDF   - 456 KB), South Australian Office for Recreation and Sport, (2012). A key issue facing local government is ensuring that sport and recreation facilities will meet future needs while being affordable and fit-for-purpose.  

          High performance peak bodies

          Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)

          The Australian Institute of Sport is Australia's strategic high performance sport agency, responsible and accountable for leading the delivery of Australia’s international sporting success. 

          The AIS works in partnership with NSOs, the NIN and peak bodies (Australian Olympic Committee, Paralympics Australia, and Commonwealth Games Australia) to deliver international sporting success. 

          Australian Olympic Committee (AOC)

          The Australian Olympic Committee is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation, with the exclusive responsibility for the representation of Australia at the Olympic Games, Youth Olympic Games, and at regional, continental, and world multi-sports competitions patronised by the IOC. This is achieved by the support of sponsors, contributions from the Australian Olympic Foundation (AOF), fundraising at corporate events and the backing of state governments who donate to the Olympic Team Appeal.

          Members of the AOC include the national bodies of sports on the Olympic program and State Olympic Councils represent the AOC in every state and territory.

          Paralympics Australia (PA)

          Paralympics Australia (PA) are responsible for preparing the Australian Paralympic Summer and Winter Teams for the Paralympic Games, which they have done since 1990. PA strongly supports the concept that participation in sport provides positive social and physical benefits to people with disabilities, and plays an important role in changing community perceptions of people with disabilities. PA partners with governments, business, sporting bodies, and the community to achieve these goals. 

          Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA)

          Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) is the peak body for the Commonwealth Games movement in Australia and administers, controls, and coordinates the participation of program sports and their respective athletes and officials in the Commonwealth Games. CGA is a member-based organisation (members are the NSOs representing the sports participating in Commonwealth Games), which receives no Federal Government funding.

          The National Institute Network (NIN) comprises the Directors of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and the eight State and Territory Institutes and Academies of Sport (SIS/SAS).

          In 2014 an independent review of the NIN was commissioned jointly by the AIS and the SIS/SAS. It recommended new governance arrangements inclusive of NIN and NSO interests to advance a more effective national high performance system with better aligned activity and shared accountability.

          New governance arrangements were subsequently endorsed by the CASRO on 1 September 2015. The new arrangements included incorporating the NIN, the NSO Performance Director forum, and a high performance summit. 

          • National Institute System Intergovernmental Agreement. Established in 2011 to provide a collaborative approach between the respective high performance agencies, with a principal focus on the delivery of the high performance plans of national sporting organisations.  

           Australian Capital Territory map

          Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport (ACTAS)

          The ACT Academy of Sport was established in 1989 as the high performance arm of ACT Sport and Recreation Services (SRS) within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government. The mission of ACTAS is to support the development of ACT athletes and enable them to gain national team selection through embracing an athletic performance development model that allows athletes to mature as individuals.

           New South Wales map

          New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS)

          The New South Wales Institute of Sport was established as a statutory body under the Institute of Sport Act, 1995 and commenced operations in 1996. Today NSWIS assists over 700 high performance athletes selected on NSWIS squads or holding individual sport scholarships covering a diverse range of sporting disciplines. NSWIS offers a comprehensive spectrum of support services to elite and emerging athletes so they can train in their home environment, enabling them to pursue their sporting careers with minimal disruption to their family, education, and employment.  

               Northern Territory map

              Northern Territory Institute of Sport (NTIS)

              The Northern Territory Institute of Sport was established in 1996 as part of the Department of Sport and Recreation within the Territory government to assist the Territory’s most talented athletes. NTIS provides greater opportunities for young athletes (over 90% of NTIS athletes are under the age of 19) to achieve success on the national and international stage. The NTIS provides professional expertise, services, and resources focused on the delivery of programs designed to enhance athlete and coach performance. The NTIS also houses the AIS endorsed National Heat Training and Acclimatisation Centre. NTIS supports high performance sport in the Territory by working with affiliated Territory Sport Organisations to build their capacity and develop high performance programs, as well as NTIS’ athlete development programs. 

               Queensland map

              Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS)

              The Queensland Academy of Sport is an initiative of the state government, established in 1991. QAS is dedicated to supporting the State's elite and identified developing athletes. To achieve this, QAS provides assistance to Queensland's talented athletes and coaches through individual scholarships, QAS squads, and partnership programs.  QAS assists more than 600 athletes across 22 different sports. Scholarship holders have access to world-class coaching and support services, including: sport science, strength and conditioning, medical support, career and education; in addition to financial support for competition and training costs, depending on the level of their scholarship. The QAS also houses the Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research.

               South Australia map

              South Australian Sport Institute (SASI)

              The South Australian Sports Institute was established in 1982 as the first state government based sports institute, as part of the SA Office for Recreation and Sport. SASI identifies, develops and supports athletes having the potential to perform at the highest national and international levels of sport. SASI works with sporting partners to conduct intensive coaching and training programs as well as supporting athletes through an individual scholarship program. SASI delivers scientific and technical support and holistic development of athletes, coaches, and staff. 

               Tasmania map

              Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS)

              The Tasmanian Institute of Sport was established in 1985 by the state government to help Tasmania's talented athletes achieve excellence in sport. The TIS has bases in both Hobart and Launceston offering scholarships to individual athletes in a range of sports, National Training Centre programs, and Elite Development programs.

               Victoria map

              Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS)

              The Victorian Institute of Sport was established in 1990 by the state government as a private trustee company, with its Board of Directors appointed by the Victorian Minister for Sport. The VIS provides support for about 400 athletes from a wide range of individual sports, National Training Centre programs, and State Sporting Association partnership programs. The VIS provides a range of services and support to its athletes including advanced and specialised coaching, sport science and sports medicine services, career and education advice, and training and competition support.  

               Western Australia map

              Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS)

              The Western Australian Institute of Sport was established in 1983 to provide opportunities for talented Western Australian athletes to achieve excellence in elite sport within their home environment.  WAIS athlete numbers can fluctuate from between 250 – 400 athletes receiving either individual scholarships or as part of WAIS squads or National Training Centre programs. Athletes receive coaching, sport science and medical services, and support to enable them to prepare for competition and for life.
                • WAIS Strategic Plan 2017-2021
                • Going for Gold: Champions from the West, Frank Pyke, Western Australian Institute of Sport, (2010). Chronicles the 25 year history of the Western Australian Institute of Sport and celebrates the achievements of 25 of the best athletes produced in Western Australia – sporting heroes who achieved great things on the world stage, both prior to the birth of WAIS and after it. 


              Regional academy programs in NSW and Victoria are funded through State governments. They have close working relationships with their respective State Institutes of Sport, but maintain their own governance structure.  State and local government authorities help to fund regional academies. They work cooperatively with SSOs to provide additional athlete support and training/competition opportunities for talented youth, between the ages of 12 and 18 years. 

              New South Wales

              NSW Office of Sport supports and provides annual grants to the network of regional academies of sport. A total of eleven academies – 9 independent community based academies and two, Warren & Canberra region, which are operated by NSW Office of Sport.

              The NSW regional academies help developing athletes reach their potential by providing specialist services within a local environment. Regional academies provide a stepping stone for athletes on the pathway to elite athlete development as they progress from local club to NSW Institute of Sport support.


              The Gold Coast Academy of Sport (GCAS) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to offer the community inclusive sports development programs for youth who are committed to high achievement. The Academy is the first in Queensland. The business partners of the GCAS include the Gold Coast City Council, local business on the Gold Coast, and a host of other corporate sponsors.


              All Victorian regional academies of sport are community based organisations that have established comprehensive programs to provide talented regional athletes with access to coaching and education programs of excellence, assisting them to reach their full sporting potential and enhance their access to pathways into state and national representation. Regional academies assist in the identification and nurturing of young athletes by providing programs and services to bridge the gap between club and elite levels. Considerable effort is focused on overcoming possible disadvantages faced by regional athletes, such as limited local resources and greater travelling time and distances. 

              Western Australia

              • Mid West Academy of Sport (MWAS) (Geraldton). Promotes, develops and services sporting talent (athletes, coaches, and officials) throughout the Mid West Region of Western Australia. The Academy concept was proven to be financially viable and has continued to attract support from the WA Department of Sport and Recreation with local businesses also providing a significant in-kind and financial support.
              • South West Academy of Sport  (SWAS) (Bunbury). Is styled after the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) and successful regional models in the eastern states of Australia. It supports identified SWAS athletes to their reach potential through identified pathways and programs delivered in the South West with support services such as nutrition, fitness, injury prevention, and mental skills training to hold them in good stead for a future in sport.

              Sporting organisations

              National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) and National Sporting Organisations for People with Disability (NSODs) develop sport from community participation to high performance levels. NSOs (and NSODs) in most cases work closely with their respective State Sporting Organisations (SSOs) across all Australian state and territory jurisdictions.

              The Sport Australia website provides an overview of the key sports organisations including Australian and state government organisations, non-government organisations, NSOs and NSODs, and provides further links to useful information on Australian sport. The Australian Sports Directory lists NSOs and links to their contact details.

              State Sporting Organisations (SSOs), sometimes also called State Sporting Associations (SSAs), are responsible for developing their sport from community participation to high performance levels in their respective jurisdiction.

              They are normally required by state/territory governments to be affiliated with the recognised national governing body for the sport (NSO/NSOD) and to meet required governance standards. SSOs/SSAs work closely with state/territory departments of sport and recreation, clubs in their state/territory, as well as the national body and other state sporting organisations in order to develop their respective sports.

              State/Territory departments of sport and recreation normally provide a list of recognised SSOs/SSAs, as well as relevant resources for organisations, on their websites. 

              Peak advocacy and professional bodies

              The Confederation of Australian Sport is an independent, not-for-profit industry voice committed to promoting the contribution of community sport and representing the interests of those organisations and peak bodies involved in community based sport and active recreation.

              CSA, previously known as the Australian State Sports Federation Alliance (ASSFA) is comprised of the State and Territory Sports Federations and collectively represents issues affecting community sport and active recreation in Australia. CSA communicates regularly and where appropriate provides a joint submission to Federal review and issues.  CSA includes:

              Women Sport Australia (formerly Australian Womensport and Recreation Association (AWRA)) is the peak national advocacy organisation for women in sport. Their mission is to advocate for: 

              • Gender pay equity and a living wage for all elite female athletes
              • Equal access to sporting facilities and amenities for women and girls both on and off the field
              • Equal media time and space for women’s and men’s sports
              • Champion role models in women’s sport

              Community sector

              'Club sport' is a fundamental building block of the Australian sport sector and assists in underpinning participatory and elite performance pathways

              Sport and active recreation clubs make sport accessible to the Australian community. This provides a valuable contribution to Australian society including accrued benefits that contribute to health and well-being, inclusion, participation, volunteering, and community building and development outcomes.

              It is estimated that there are over 70,000 registered not-for-profit sports clubs currently operating in Australia. However, ascertaining exactly how many clubs exist, including a definition of what exactly constitutes a sports club, is not easy to quantify and confirm. 

              Schools play a very important role in making sport accessible to children and young people. The importance of school sport (and physical education) as a contributing factor to the overall activity level of children is emphasised in the literature, particularly among lower socio-economic groups. One of the significant barriers to participation in extra-curricular sport is ‘cost’ and this factor is somewhat ameliorated in the school setting.

              In research into intervention programs designed to increase physical activity and improve the health status of a population the following factors appear consistent:

              • School settings provide many advantages because basic physical education gives children the skills that will enable a lifetime of varied physical activities and sports participation.
              • Interventions that target ‘school age’ participants have a good chance of long-term impact.
              • School based intervention programs help overcome some social disadvantage factors.
              • The most successful intervention programs produce positive behavioural change, and not just environmental change, across many key factors including attitudes towards physical activity; dietary practice; time management;sedentary (screen time) activity; social and community engagement; personal self-esteem; and confidence.

              Since its establishment in 1981, School Sport Australia has been responsible for the development and promotion of school sport in Australia.

              Sporting Schools LogoSporting Schools 

              Sporting Schools is a national program available through Sport Australia to all Australian primary schools. It aims to engage more children in more sport based activity within schools and then convert their interest into club based settings. The goal is to help children foster a lifelong interest in sport; gain healthier minds and bodies; have fun; and, learn sport activities and games in a safe environment.

              Funding is available to schools to engage quality coaches to deliver the sporting programs developed by the partners of Sporting Schools. These activities can be delivered to children before, during, and after school.

              The program aims to engage more than 850,000 children across Australia in what will be the country’s largest school-based participation programme. 

              More information about the role and value of sport in schools can be found in the Clearinghouse Sport in Education topic.

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

              UniSport Australia is the peak governing body of university sport in Australia and currently has forty-three members, which represents more than one million students. UniSport Australia is recognised by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission) and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).

              • Student-athletes perform in Rio, Australian University Sport (AUS), posted online (26 August 2016). There were 71 Australian medal winning athletes (individual events, relays, and team members) at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games; 61% are current or were former university athletes, across 10 sports. AUS research shows that student-athletes selected to Australian Olympic Teams win a higher percentage of medals on a pro-rata basis than athletes not attending (current or past) university. 

              In July 2017 AUS released a report The Case for Change Transitioning from the Australian University Games to a divisional, national championship model (PDF  - 1.1 MB) which stated that:

              It is clear that AUS, in partnership with members, NSOs and the ASC/AIS, can and must create more credible competition opportunities to better service the growing cohort of elite student athletes. This should become a priority for future planning. The Case for Change, AUS, (2017), p.8.

              The report also highlights some of the challenges currently facing the Australian sport, and particularly elite sport, sector which may be leading to decreased international competitiveness. It argues that improving the quality of competition in Australian university sport can benefit athletes, universities, and the broader sport sector, including retaining elite athletes who currently may choose to study and compete overseas due to a lack of robust, competitive sporting programs in Australia. 

              Australian Universities also provide support for elite athletes (e.g. Olympic and Paralympic) in three ways:

              1. The Elite Athlete Education Network Through partnered Universities, TAFE’s and other education providers helps to support elite athletes for the duration of their course study. This ensures their experience on campus is one that is rewarding, flexible and helps them acquire the right skills and qualifications needed to follow their passions and interests outside of sport. Endorsed members of the EAEN (university/TAFE/Entrepreneur Network) commit to a range of guiding principles and minimum standards through consultation with the AIS. This is a national network that supports Australian athletes within the high performance sport system.
              2. Some scholarship assistance is also available from select Australian universities on the basis of athletic and academic potential/performance.
              3. Intra and inter-university competition, with a pathway to International University Sports Federation (FISU) events, is possible. 

              The fitness industry plays a significant role in the sport and active recreation sector in Australia with the AusPlay survey reporting that 33.8% of the adult population (15+) participated in fitness or gym (including Crossfit) between 2016-2018. [source: Fitness/Gym: State of Play Report, Sport Australia, (April 2019)]. The report also estimated that: 

              • Fitness/Gym activities represented a 17.2% share of all active time (all sports and physical activities combined).
              • A total of more than $3 billion per annum was spent on adult 15+ Fitness/Gym participation fees. Median annual spend was $520 per adult participant.

              Additionally, a 2011 report on behalf of the peak health and fitness industry association Fitness Australia, reported that there were over 2,250 ‘fitness businesses’ in Australia and just under 30,000 registered exercise professionals [source: Fitness Industry Workforce Report 2010-2020 (PDF   - 973 KB), Deloitte Access Economics for Fitness Australia, (2012)].

              Media report:

              International practice

              Wikipedia provides a list of international sports federations, each of which serves as a non-government governing body for a given sport and administers its sport at a world level, most often crafting rules, promoting the sport to prospective spectators and fans, developing prospective players, and organising world or continental championships [Source: Wikipedia]

              International Olympic Committee (IOC)

              The International Olympic Committee is the principal authority of the Olympic Movement. Acting as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic familyincluding National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the International Sports Federations (IFs), the athletes, the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), Olympic broadcast partners, and United Nations agenciesthe IOC seeks to lead and influence success through a wide range of program and projects.

              International Paralympic Committee (IPC)

              The International Paralympic Committee is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. Its purpose is to organise the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games and to act as the International Federation for nine disability sports, supervising and coordinating World Championships and other competitions.

              Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF)

              The Global Association of International Sports Federations is an umbrella organisation for international sports federations and other international sport and event related organisations. Their mission is to serve and represent the common interests of all International Federations and coordinate the efforts of all those that aspire to become IOC recognised and, eventually, wish to enter the Olympic Program. 

              Comparative Study

              Researchers have undertaken a study of 12 countries' sport systems and a number of them have similar type sport sectors to that of Australia: 

              International Study of 12 sports Federations: Country Profiles,  Dr Elien Claes et. al., University of Leuven , Belgium, (2015). The 12 international sports systems compared are: Germany, France, England, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, Canada, and Australia. 

              Sports Policy factors Leading to International Sporting Success (SPLISS)

              SPLISS is an international network of research cooperation that coordinates, develops, and shares expertise in innovative high performance sport policy research in cooperation with policy makers, National Olympic Committees (NOCs), international (sport) organisations, and researchers worldwide. The SPLISS project has so far published two major reports: 

              • The global sporting arms race: an international comparative study on sports policy factors leading to international sporting success. De Bosscher, V., Meyer & Meyer Sport, (2008). This volume draws on research involving more than 1,400 athletes, coaches, and performance directors at the highest levels and seeks to evaluate and compare over 100 factors that lead to international sporting success. An international comparison of elite sports systems and policies in six nations (Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom) provides a basis for measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of sport management systems and identifies for investigation possible factors leading to international sporting success. Key concepts are funding, integrated policy development, participation rates, talent identification and development systems, long term athlete development including post career support, training facilities, coaching provision and coach development, intyernational competition and sports science research. [book held by the Clearinghouse for Sport, GV713.B67]
              • Successful elite sport policies : an international comparison of the sports policy factors leading to international sporting success (SPLISS 2.0) in 15 nations. De Bosscher, V., Meyer & Meyer Sport, (2015). This book deals with the strategic policy planning process that underpins the development of successful national elite sport development systems. Drawing on various international competitiveness studies, it examines how nations develop and implement policies that are based on the critical success factors that may lead to competitive advantage in world sport. An international group of researchers joined forces to develop theories, methods and a model on the Sports Policy factors Leading to International Sporting Success (SPLISS). The book presents the results of the large-scale international SPLISS-project. In this project the research team identified, compared and contrasted elite sport policies and strategies in place for the Olympic Games and other events in 15 distinct nations. With input from 58 researchers and 33 policy makers worldwide and the views of over 3000 elite athletes, 1300 high performance coaches and 240 performance directors, this work is the largest benchmarking study of national elite sport policies ever conducted.

              Further resources and reading

              • AusPlay Survey (AusPlay) is a large scale national population tracking survey funded and led by Sport Australia that tracks Australian sport and physical activity participation behaviours to help inform investment, policy and sport delivery. Results are updated every 6 months. 
              • The Future of Australian Sport. The ASC commissioned the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to identify the six megatrends likely to shape the Australian sports sector over the next 30 years. The 'Future of Australian Sport' online resource includes the report, a video, and a podcast that outline the methodology and findings of the research.
              • Intergenerational review of Australian sport 2017 (PDF  - 1.9 MB), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for the Australian Sports Commission, (2017). This review focused on the overall sports sector, with a particular emphasis on participation in sport and community level sport. While the synergies between participation and high performance sporting outcomes are recognised as being important to any discussion about the value of sport, the ASC’s high performance strategy is reviewed as part of the Olympic cycle. A separate, deeper analysis of the high performance sports system, including the AIS strategy and future direction of the AIS campus, commenced prior to the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. This analysis includes an evaluation of individual sports' abilities to contribute to high performance outcomes. The outcomes of this analysis will complement this review. 
              • Sports funding: federal balancing act, Dr Rhonda Jolly, Social Policy Section, Parliamentary Library, (June 2013). Detailed description of Australian sport policy including policies and government funding.
              • Organisation of sport in Australia [Wikipedia]. The organisation of sport in Australia has been largely determined and shaped by Australian governments at all levels, that is the Australian Government, the State and Territory Governments, and Local Governments.

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