Aussie Sports

Aussie Sports

Prepared by : Dr Ralph Richards and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport
Last updated : 24 April 2020
Content disclaimer : See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer
Aussie Sports
Sport Australia


The AUSSIE Sports program was launched by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in April 1986. For the first time Australia had a nationally coordinated program of sports education and development targeting primary school age children.

The program was based upon a 'shared responsibility' approach among schools, sporting organisations, and community groups. Core concepts helped to shape the Junior Sports Frameworks of many National Sporting Organisations. 


Prior to the development of the AUSSIE Sports program a 'Children in Sport Committee' was established by the ASC, chaired by Roy Masters. The Committee undertook 18 months of intensive consultation with state and territory governments, teachers, sports coaches, the Australian Council of Health Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER), and numerous National Sporting Organisations (NSOs).

The Committee identified the six issues of widespread concern: (1) low participation rates in sports activities by children; (2) poor levels of skill development among children; (3) a limited range of sports available to children; (4) an adult orientation in many sports; (5) limited opportunities for girls to participate more fully; and, (6) a lack of quality sports coaches.

Through the AUSSIE Sports program the ASC took a leadership position in addressing the identified concerns of the Australian sport sector. The ASC led a national awareness campaign, featuring AUSSIE Sports, that highlighted the many desirable aims and objectives of junior sport. The ASC also encouraged NSOs to think about how they promoted and delivered sport, particularly to children.
The framework for the AUSSIE Sports program was developed with the objective of increasing opportunities for Australian children to participate in quality sporting experiences. The initial focus was on children in their last three years of primary school (9-12 years). Delivery strategies included providing education and resources to primary school teachers, as well as engaging more volunteer coaches at the community sport level.

AUSSIE Sports targeted both the education and the sports sectors. The emphasis was ‘have a go’ rather than ‘win’. For the first time, codes of behaviour for parents and coaches were introduced as a means of shaping the sports environment and promoting good practice. A key to the success of the program was the development of modified sports; introducing rules, playing areas, and equipment that suited the developmental age of children. 

Primary schools and sporting clubs could enrol in the AUSSIE Sports program and receive supporting resources, as well as benefit from the enhanced public profile of junior sport highlighted in the media campaign. Resources included an activities manual with 30 modified games as well as techniques and drills to develop basic sports skills, a video, pupil log books, posters, badges, and certificates. An awards program was introduced that featured participation rather than achievement.

An introductory coaching qualification, Level 0 AUSSIE Sports Coach, was offered to teachers and parents. NSOs, with assistance from the Australian Coaching Council, developed general and sport-specific coaching manuals. Teacher training in basic sports education was supported by ACHPER.

Nabisco Brands Pty. Ltd. became the first corporate sponsor of the AUSSIE Sports program.

AUSSIE Sports introduced a 'shared responsibility' approach amongst schools, sporting organisations, and communities to deliver junior sports programs. In the first year of the AUSSIE Sports project 10 staff were engaged across the country, with a small national coordinating unit at the ASC. Initially, the ASC funded state AUSSIE Sports coordinators through Departments of Education, later they became the responsibility of the state and territory departments of sport and recreation. In the last full year of the program (1995) there were over 80 AUSSIE Sport staff, with 12 of these in a coordinating and service role at the ASC.

In 1989, following the release of the report Youth sport: the next step (PDF  - 11.3 MB), two additional programs within AUSSIE Sports were developed.

  1. The Youth Sport Program was designed to address the decline in participation among 13-18 year olds. Its objective was to encourage youth to remain engaged in sport by offering training and various roles such as coaching and officiating in addition to competitive participation. The signature youth leadership program was called Challenge Achievement and Pathways in Sport (CAPS). It provided a pathway for young adults to pursue training and practical experiences in sports administration, coaching, officiating, team and event management, sports health, and qualifications such as a SportsFun leader.
  2. The AUSSIE SportsFun program was designed to provide after-school sports programs for younger (early primary school age) children.

In 1991 the AUSSIE Sports Program was re-named AUSSIE Sport to de-emphasise particular sports and instead reflect the broader philosophy of fair play and participation for everyone through sport.

Additional programs were developed under the AUSSIE Sport brand, including:

  • SportStart. This program aimed to assist parents and care givers by encouraging active play with their pre-school children.  A resource manual was developed to help parents teach their children fundamental movement skills through play and 'sport like' activities. The skills of throwing, catching, kicking, striking, jumping, and body coordination were central to the SportStart activities.
  • Sport It. A pilot program aimed at helping primary school teachers prepare children for a lifetime of physical activity by stressing the fundamental motor skills children need to acquire. The program included skills training in kicking, striking, locomotion, tracking, throwing and catching, body control, and object (ball) control.
  • Sport for Kids. This program included the modified sports programs developed by over 40 National Sporting Organisations.
  • Active Girls Campaign. Under the AUSSIE Sport brand, a media and public awareness campaign was conducted to encourage more girls to participate in sports.
  • Challenge Achievement and Pathways in Sport program (CAPS). A development program for youth 14 to 20 year. It was delivered by NSOs in partnership with the Aussie Sport program. Participants were able to engage in a range of sporting disciplines including coaching administration, refereeing, team management, and promoting sports health awareness and physical activity.

During the life of AUSSIE Sport approximately 96 per cent of primary schools in Australia had adopted some components of the program into their curricula, even if they had not registered as a program provider. There were also more than 5000 sports clubs registered as AUSSIE Sport Clubs.

Basic coach education was one of the great legacies of AUSSIE Sport. Level 0 Coaching programs were delivered to over 9000 people within the club sector, mostly parents serving as volunteer coaches, and over 8000 primary school teachers. In addition, primary school teachers received in-service training from the sport sector.  From 1986 to 1992 more than 14,500 in-service opportunities were provided to primary school teachers to help improve their sports skills and confidence [Source: 'Submission from the Australian Sports Commission to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts inquiry into physical and sport education', July 1992].

More than 4000 youth leaders had been trained through the Youth Sport Program and 100,000 copies of the AUSSIE Sport Code of Behaviour had been distributed to schools and sports clubs.

The AUSSIE Sport program was evaluated several times and strategies modified accordingly. Overall, AUSSIE Sport had the greatest impact on generalist primary school teachers, who were not specifically trained as physical education specialists. AUSSIE Sport left a long-term legacy in schools and junior sports programs through the development and promotion of over 40 modified sports and games.

In 1994 the success of AUSSIE Sport led to the establishment of the National Junior Sport Working Party, made up of representatives of the ASC, the Standing Committee on Recreation and Sport (SCORS) and the Conference of Director-Generals of Education. The Working Party drafted a National Junior Sport Policy, that in 2003 evolved into the 'Junior Sport Framework'. Many of the core concepts of AUSSIE Sport were embedded in the original policy and remain in the framework as 'good practice' for junior sport programs.

In 1995 AUSSIE Sport was awarded the UNESCO Diploma of Honour for Distinguished Services to Physical Education and Sport.

In 1997 AUSSIE Sport was recognised by the International Olympic Committee, being awarded the Diploma of Honour for the promotion of fair play.

Variations of AUSSIE Sport were adopted in 27 countries as their major primary-school sport program; including New Zealand where it was known as 'Kiwi Sport' and South Africa where it was known as 'Protea Sport'. AUSSIE Sport was also successfully introduced to many Pacific Island countries as part of Australia’s international development program.

Although AUSSIE Sport disappeared as an identifiable brand, its legacy remains. AUSSIE Sport resources are now out of print, but many Australian primary schools continue to use them.

  • 'Modified Sport: resource manual', Revised Edition, Australian Sports Commission, (1996).
  • 'AUSSIE Sport Resource Manual', Australian Sports Commission (1994).

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport Modified Sports and Junior Sport Framework topics. 

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