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Crawford: Participation, not Medals, should be Australia’s sporting goal

Crawford: Participation, not Medals, should be Australia’s sporting goal
November 17, 2009

The Federal Government has released the long-awaited Crawford review, which suggests that the success of Australian sport should be measured not only through elite sporting achievement but also by participation rates in community sport.

The biggest review of Australian sport’s funding and governance in more than a decade has recommended major changes to the administration of Australian sport, ending lengthy speculation about its content and now allowing for open debate on its 39 recommendations.

The report, undertaken by an independent panel headed by the respected David Crawford, has questioned the Australian Olympic Committee’s quest to reclaim ‘top five’ status on the medal table at the 2012 London Olympics and future Games, saying that target is not sensible and not an appropriate measure of Australian performance.

The report states that “the panel does not believe that the medal count is an appropriate measure of Australian performance or that top five is a sensible target.

"The panel’s judgement is that if another $100 million per year is invested in sport it would better directed to other priorities.”

The report has also recommended that, while there will not be a reduction in the level of funding to either elite sport or the sport sector as a whole, sports that are part of the "national ethos" should get priority, stating “there should be debate about which sports carry the national ethos.

"Swimming, tennis, cricket, cycling, the football codes, netball, golf, hockey, basketball, surfing and surf lifesaving are among the most popular sports in Australia, a part of the national psyche. Many are team sports and are the sports we are introduced to as part of our earliest education and community involvement.”

While the report does not name Olympic sports that would face funding cuts should the recommendations be accepted, they are believed to include niche sports which have failed to attract large numbers of participants such as fencing, archery, tae-kwando, wrestling, table tennis, badminton, rowing and sailing.

The report also suggests encouraging participation, stating “if more money is to be injected into the system, then we must give serious consideration to where that money is spent. If we are truly interested in a preventative health agenda through sport, then much of it may be better spent on lifetime participants than almost all on a small group of elite athletes who will perform at that level for just a few years."

At today’s launch of the report, Minister for Sport Kate Ellis backed this move to supporting mass participation by saying it was clear the full capacity of sport had not been adequately harnessed at a community and grassroots level.

Emphasising participation in sport as a key priority, the Report recommends that a national curriculum for sport and physical education be developed in 2011 and implemented in 2012.

While acknowledging the success of the Active After Schools communities program, the Report also indicates that it should be contracted out in the future.

In relation to funding, Minister Ellis went on to state, “the report does not recommend a funding cut to elite sport or the sport sector as a whole" adding that sport “needs to be placed at the centre of preventative health efforts aimed at tackling serious emerging health issues such as obesity.”

The Report was critical of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) structure recommended that its board and chief executive be replaced, and that that the ASC should be separated from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), saying the ASC should not be involved in service delivery. It also recommended that all state institutes be merged to form a body called the Australian Institutes of Sport.

The Report also recommended that that the Australian Sports Commission in conjunction with the Department of Health and Ageing should explore the viability of tax rebates, voucher or another system designed to reduce the cost of participation, and the likely contribution of such schemes to increasing participation levels.

In elite sport, the Report also called for recipients of Federal Government funding, through the new AIS, to give back to the community after their sporting careers, donating their time and expertise to the Australian sports system.

The report also called for a relaxation of anti-siphoning legislation so that sports could receive more broadcasting rights revenue.



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