Structure of Sport in Australia

Anyone with an interest in working in the sport industry needs to have an understanding of the industry's structure, peak bodies, government agencies and other key organisations.

The following diagram provides an example of what is meant by the "structure" of the sport industry. Key organisations identified and the terms 'Elite Sport", "Government Agencies" and "Peak Bodies" are explained below.

Structure of the Sport Industry in Australia

Sport and Government

The role of government in the sport and recreation industry is similar across all levels of government (national, state and municipal). However, there are important difference as well.

Governments, at all levels, seek to encourage increased participation in sport as this beneficially impacts on the health and welfare of citizens, the nation's productivity and the cohesion of the community. This is achieved by providing assistance to sporting organisations so that they have increased capacity to:

The assistance usually takes the form of funding (money) but organisations have to meet specific criteria to gain this funding. Examples of criteria include:

Local government

The role of national, state and local government also differ in a number of important ways. The majority of outdoor sporting facilities are created by local government by the setting aside and development of land for community use. Local government works with community organisations to manage and maintain these sporting facilities and will inject funds, from time-to-time, to assist improve facilities to increase access of the public to quality sport and recreation facilities and programs.

Local government is not really in the business of sporting excellence but will sometimes provide limited financial help to individuals who are selected for important sporting events.

National government

The role of national government in the sport industry tends to reflect the national desire for success in the international sporting arena. For this reason, the role of national government is to facilitate sporting excellence so that representatives of Australia do well at the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, World Cups, etc. The national government works with national sport bodies and injects funding to increase their capacity to:

Not all national sport bodies require or receive funding from the national government. Some professional sports generate sufficient funds from their own operations that they little need for public funding. Much of the funding (taxpayer's dollars) goes towards sports that are included in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, particularly those sports where Australia does well e.g. swimming, rowing, cycling, etc.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC)is the agency of the national government that deals with the administration of funding to national sport bodies and ensures that government policy with regard to sport is implemented.

The objectives of the ASC, as set out in this legislation, are:

State Government

The role of state governments has some similarity with the national government in encouraging sporting excellence but also has similarity with the role of local government by assisting in the development of facilities and programs for participation in sport at the grass roots level.

State governments work largely with state sporting associations and provide funding that assists them to:

What is a Peak Body?

In the sport industry there are well more than 100 national sporting bodies recognised by government. Separately, it is difficult for any national sporting body to influence governmental policy on sport. However, when sport bodies form an organisation to represent their collective views and interests, governments are bound to take notice. This is the purpose of a Peak Body, an organisation formed to represent the interests of its member organisations and to lobby government on matters relating to policy on sport.

Peak bodies also acts as a conduit for information and the cross-pollinisation of ideas between sport bodies.

In Australia, the national peak body for sport is the Confederation of Australian Sport (CAS). It was established in 1976 to advance the interests of the Australian sports community and to give the sport industry a united voice in discussions and negotiations with governments and key stakeholders. In the same way that national sport organisations band together to lobby the national government, there are also state peak bodies that represent the interests of state sporting bodies in negotiations with state governments. Sports Federation Queensland is an example.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) act in many ways as a peak body, but with a significant difference. The primary role of the AOC is to ensure that Australia sends a full team to each Olympic Games. This role encompasses:

The role of the ACGA is much the same as the AOC but the end result is the sending and supporting of an Australian team to the Commonwealth Games which occurs every four years.

Elite Sport

The Australian Institute of Sport has been in existence since 1980. One of the factors that propelled it into being was the Australian team's performance at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. The team could only manage to win one silver and four bronze medals. For a supremely sport loving nation such as Australia, this was deemed a lack of success and there was a great deal of support for the idea of funding by the national government to help Australian individuals and teams to be more competitive in the international sport arena.

The basic principle of the Australian Institute of Sport was to offer Australia's best athletes the opportunity to be coached by outstanding coaches in facilities that are conducive to high performance. Furthermore, this opportunity would be given to selected athletes without charge.

About 10 years after the inception of the Australian Institute of Sport, state institutes of sport (or Academies of Sport) were founded with a similar purpose to create pathways for athletes into the highest levels of sport. In Australia the state institutes of sport are:


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