The 2021/22 Federal Budget was always going to be highly anticipated by several different sporting bodies and organisations across the nation.  With the Morrison Government committed to driving Australia’s COVID-19 recovery effort, stimulating economic activity and growth is at the cornerstone of the budget.

Sport and recreational activity are expected to play a prominent role in achieving this broad and commonly held objective with the May 11 budget announcement welcome news for many of the country’s elite sporting organisations and programs.

The Federal Government will invest $136.3 million over three years (beginning in 2021-22) into Australia’s high performance sport system and programs. This commitment aims to support the Australian athletes and representative teams in numerous major sporting events, including the upcoming Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Budget 2021-22 fact sheet provides the following breakdown of the allocated amount:

  • $82.2 million for the extension of the Athlete Performance Pathways and Wellbeing program to support the development and specialised needs of athletes;
  • $50.6 million in high performance grants to national sporting organisations (NSOs), supporting 56 high performance programs for Olympic and Paralympic sports including assistance for 2,600 athletes and 320 staff currently supported by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra; and
  • $3.5 million in increased operational costs for the Australian Paralympic Team’s participation in the Tokyo Paralympic Games due to the impact of COVID-19.

Such an investment is intended to provide direct support for training and performance preparation, specialised mental health services, job-readiness training and pathways to future employment. An average of 850 NSO athletes each year will be eligible to receive support grants under these measures.

The Sporting Schools Program has been extended until 31 December 2022 and will provide a further $40.8 million in funding to support schools in partnering with national sporting organisations to deliver sporting-based activity to students free of charge. This Sport Australia program is available to all Australian schools and students up to year 8.

The program has a particular focus on student groups with lower activity levels, and those living in disadvantaged and remote locations. With participation levels in community sport decreasing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program aims to support children and their parents in reconnecting them with sport and increasing overall involvement at a grassroots level.

Up to 5,750 primary schools and a further 750 secondary schools are expected to be beneficiaries of the extension that is estimated to create 2 million participant opportunities to students. Since its implementation in 2015, the program has reached 77% of schools nationwide.

$19.9 million has been committed over the next two years into facilitating the promotion of women’s sport and major events with Australia scheduled to host the FIBA (basketball) Women’s World Cup in 2022 and the FIFA (football) Women’s World Cup in 2023.

The Budget 2021-22 fact sheet provides:

  • Basketball Australia will receive $5 million in funding to plan and deliver the FIBA Women’s World Cup and increase participation and leadership in basketball;
  • Football Australia will receive funding support of $12 million for a Matildas high performance program in the lead up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup; and
  • $2.9 million for coordination activities on upcoming major sporting events.

Both events are integral in strengthening Australia’s reputation as a world leader in the promotion and excellence of women’s sport with the Opals and Matildas hoping to win on home soil. The legacy of the tournaments will be instrumental in inspiring the next generation of stars hoping to emulate the exploits of Lauren Jackson, Sam Kerr, Liz Cambage, Ellie Carpenter, Shlya Heal and Kyra Cooney-Cross respectively.

A $35 million commitment has also been made to invest in the safeguarding of sporting integrity through a number of key measures relating to anti-doping, sports betting and children protection, and aimed at promoting transparency over the next four years. The primary initiative is the allocation of $24.9 million into maintaining Sport Integrity Australia’s foundation anti-doping, criminal intelligence and administrative capabilities, including support for the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory (ASDTL).

The Federal Government’s $232 million commitment to the aforementioned sports funding measures is a strong indication of the important role sport is expected to play in aiding the national recovery from the downturns created by the pandemic.

Australia’s participation and performances at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, as well the nation’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA Basketball World Cup and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and increased community sporting involvement are expected to be key drivers of economic growth while also helping improve and enhance health and mental wellbeing and increase physical activity levels.

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