Dr Rhonda Jolly
Commonwealth Games funding
When in Opposition the Prime Minister was reported to have promised Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, $100.0 million in funding towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This Budget delivers on that commitment and more. The Government will provide $156.0 million to the Queensland Government in immediate support for infrastructure projects for the Games. In addition, the Government has noted that $2.5 million will be allocated from existing resources in the Department of Health, the Attorney General’s Department and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to support co-ordinated planning for the Games.
The Gold Coast Bulletin was not entirely satisfied with the Budget, however, calling the funding a ‘mixed bag’ as forward estimates indicate there are no plans to commit any further funding to the Games.
In confirming there would be no further direct cash contributions Federal Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Steven Ciobo, emphasised that the funding was more than the federal government had allocated to the 2006 Melbourne Games. He added that the Games are traditionally funded predominantly by state governments, ‘and that will continue to be the case in Queensland’.
The Government will move some functions of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) to the Department of Health and streamline the ASC’s dealings with National Sporting Organisations with the intention of achieving savings of $22.8 million over four years. The redirection of funding is intended to allow the ASC ‘to focus on its core business of sports participation and high performance sport’.
This announcement is in keeping with the new role allocated to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) under the ASC’s new high performance strategy, Australia’s Winning Edge 2012–2022. The AIS has moved from direct program delivery to act as a strategic high performance sport agency. Its responsibility is to assist National Sporting Organisations to achieve sporting success against their individual plans.
Funding for participation
The Sporting Schools Initiative will provide $100.3 million over three years for schools to run activities across 35 major sports throughout the school year. The Sporting Schools Initiative will replace the Active after Schools communities program which has been running since 2005.
The new initiative, which will directly link schools with sporting clubs, is expected to provide more access for children to activities than the program it is to replace. The Government predicts around 850,000 children in over 5,000 primary schools and 80 secondary schools will participate in the program.
Teachers will be able to access a range of training guides and coaching courses under the program and it is expected that program grants will be worth on average $1,700 each.
John Wylie, Chair of the ASC, which will administer the new program, considered it will ‘provide more young Australians than ever before with the opportunity to participate in a range of sports while at school’ and ‘foster a greater connection for Australia children with sport’; one that Wylie hoped would also provide a lifelong love of sport.
Funding gains and possible losses
The Budget contains good news for one sports-related program that is working towards breaking what is increasingly being seen as an unhealthy link between alcohol and sport in Australia.
The Government will continue to fund the Good Sports Programme, which is administered by the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF), under a measure that provides $19.0 million over four years. The Good Sports initiative has been able to reach over 1.8 million Australians in 6,500 sports clubs with its alcohol management program. The ADF calculates that the continuing government funding will help it to extend its reach to three million people. Success of the program and potential for its expansion is indicated by a recent poll conducted by the Foundation which found that 87 per cent of those questioned would be more likely to choose a sports club or code for their child if it manages alcohol responsibly.
Conversely, a Government decision as a result of a recommendation by the National Commission of Audit may see the closure of a similar program. The decision to transfer essential functions of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) to the Department of Health, with a view to closing the Agency, has meant that there are questions surrounding whether there will be future funding allocated for the Be the Influence – Tackling Binge Drinking program, and from where that funding will be sourced.
Under this program, introduced by the previous government, 16 national sporting organisations receive support to reduce the exposure of young people to alcohol imagery and branding and reduce the links between alcohol and sporting activities where young people are involved. Organisations funded include Football Federation Australia, Netball Australia and Swimming Australia. Australian Sponsorship News noted in an article speculating on the future of the program that while some of the higher profile sports sponsored are likely to gain replacement sponsorship relatively easily if government funding is discontinued, others may struggle. Prior to the budget a spokesperson for one of the sponsored organisations maintained that not only would the loss of funding from the ANPHA be devastating, it would also be a ‘regressive step’ which would damage sports and communities.
There is, however, as yet no clear indication of what may happen to programs funded under the Be the Influence umbrella.
. Australian Sports Commission, Sporting Schools, media release, 14 May 2014, accessed 15 May 2014.
. Australian Sponsorship News, Sports will struggle to replace ANPHA funding, Australian Sponsorship News database, 12 May 2014 (subscription database).
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