On 1 August 2018, the Minister for Sport, Bridget McKenzie, launched Sport Australia's (the Australian Sports Commission) first ever national sport plan, Sport 2030. The report speaks at a high level about the future and pathway of the Australian sporting landscape in order to deliver its key and ambitious goal of ensuring that "we are the world's most active and healthy nation, known for our integrity and sporting success," by 2030.
The priorities of Sport 2030
Sport 2030 is built on the following four strategic priorities:
- building a more active Australia;
- achieving sporting excellence;
- safeguarding the integrity of the sport; and
- strengthening Australia's sport industry.
Sport 2030 seeks to action these priorities by garnering greater and more diverse involvement in sport, encouraging future generations to be more physically active and healthy, and harbouring stronger connections between various sectors such as health, education and infrastructure. Relevantly, today, Australians are watching more sport than ever with the sports industry continuing to grow and be a significant contributor to the nation's economy. In spite of this, participation in sport is predicted to drop over the coming decades, driving the report's encouragement for all Australians to lead an active lifestyle and to participate in a wide variety of sports to improve the overall health and well-being of the nation.
Government revenue, expenditure, and focus on integrity in sport
The report emphasises the broad benefits flowing from a top-down approach to the regulation of sport in Australia, and laments the decline of Australia's elite sporting dominance post the 2000 Olympics. Conversely, Sport 2030 seeks to reduce the amount of government revenue reliance by some sports, citing a 'two-speed economy' consisting of self-sufficient, high performing sports and sports that are reliant on government funding for the majority of their revenue. Sport 2030 seeks to collapse this separation through the identification of new management structures and key partnerships.
While Sport 2030 will not necessarily see an increase in government expenditure in sport, the Government will investigate how sport can contribute to the Australian economy, and consider redistribution models to sustain ongoing independent investment into all sport.
Integrity also remains a large focus point. Despite citing a strong track record on integrity in sport, the report is alive to new, emerging threats to Australia's sporting integrity. According to the report, "these integrity threats include increasingly sophisticated doping practices; globalisation and rapid growth of online sports wagering - particularly through illegal and unregulated wagering providers; infiltration and exploitation of the sports sector by organised crime; corruption in sports administration; and participant protection issues, including child safety".
The report notes these comprise a 'complex threat matrix' that necessitates "a coordinated, robust national response involving sports, governments, regulators, the wagering industry, law enforcement and other stakeholders".
The safety of children in sport
The plan considers the safety of children in sport and recreation. It suggests a connection between improved swimming programs and child drownings:
"In order to prevent drowning and increase enjoyment, every Australian child must have access to basic swimming and water safety skill education and knowledge of how to be safe when they are in, on, or around water".
A significant measure Sport Australia will use to improve child safety is the establishment and implementation of Safe Sport Australia, which seeks to "position sport at the forefront of child safe practices in Australia by providing a multi-pronged, contemporary approach to ensure all levels of sport understand their roles in keeping children safe".
The role of the Minister in Sport 2030
The Minister will establish an annual Government Ministerial roundtable. All portfolio Ministers who share responsibility for delivering sport and physical activity, or who use sport as a vehicle to deliver public policy outcomes, will come together and channel input from all bodies and sectors, including through an inter-departmental committee on sport, recreation and physical activity.
The Minister will be responsible for strengthening the relationship between the Council of Australian Governments and the members of the roundtable. The Government will host an annual 'Sport Industry Dialogue' to discuss collaboration and harmonisation across sectors.
Consideration should be taken by the sports community
The key to Sport 2030's success are broad, long-term targets which reflect the vision for each of the plan's Strategic Priorities. Sports and the sporting community should consider how such strategies impact them in order to strengthen their industry or address any shortfalls.
The report will be supported by the release of more detailed Sport Australia strategies.