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Court ruling ‘puts school sport in jeopardy’

October 21, 2009
School sports could be in jeopardy after the South Australian High Court rejected an appeal from the Government of South Australian over damages awarded to a female student injured while windsurfing.
The girl's family successfully sought damages from the South Australian Education Department over the accident, which occurred during a supervised school activity.
The South Australian Government appeal was thrown out in May despite an affidavit from South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith warning "all sporting and outdoor activities conducted by the (Education) Department that contain a competitive element" would need to be reviewed.
Dr Lomax-Smith stated "the decision has significant ramifications for the curricula offered to students in South Australia and the mode of their delivery.
"The outcome of such considerations, should the decision stand, may see the cessation of many of the activities currently undertaken in our schools."
Dr Lomax-Smith listed sports including tennis, football, cricket, netball, dance and even bushwalking as being under threat.
The Opposition challenged the Government to name in question time today the sports to be banned.
Dr Lomax-Smith told Parliament her affidavit was "crafted very carefully" going on to state "the issue here is that we understand that sport is an integral part of our way of life.
"It was necessary for us to take this view to the judge.
"We were concerned that some people ... might see this judgment and therefore close down sport.
"There are some activities that clearly need to be reassessed, clearly the department has gone through a process of examining how sport is managed.
"This is obviously complex, but I can assure you nobody that nobody would contemplate abandoning competitive sport in our schooling system. I think it would be an unacceptable response to that decision."
South Australian Premier Mike Rann has stated "while Labor is power there will be school sports".

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