Commonwealth Games Australia has welcomed the extension of high performance sport funding through until 2024, which includes next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The commitment to extend high performance sports funding and range of athlete wellbeing and support measures in addition to the extension of the Sporting School program, were all unveiled in last night’s Federal budget.
Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips joined with Australian Sports Commission Chair Josephine Sukkar AM and AIS CEO Peter Conde in welcoming the $132.8 million boost over the next three years for the AIS to carry on supporting Australian high performance sport, including Commonwealth Games sports and athletes on the road to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“CGA welcomes the continued commitment to Commonwealth Games sports and athletes,” Phillips said.
“The continuation of Australia’s high-performance strategy is crucial to retaining our status as the Commonwealth’s No. 1, a challenging task as we take on England on home soil in Birmingham.
“We know we have a unique opportunity over the next twelve months, with the Olympics and Paralympics followed immediately by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and this calendar is ensuring the collective resources of the AIS, sports and the National Institute Network are working together to ensure the Commonwealth Games remains a central plank in our performance pathway.
“And of course, Commonwealth Games Australia is doing its part, committing $13m to our sports and athletes, including $2m in direct athlete support via our recently announced BreakThrough2022 program. We will shortly announce the second phase of our sports funding program, which is backing unique and otherwise unfunded programs in all 19 Commonwealth Games sports.”
The Budget extension through to 2023-24 means the AIS will be able to give sports greater clarity over their long-term funding in preparations for the 2024 Paris Games. It also enables the AIS to continue to strengthen the performance pathways for developing and emerging athletes, as well as athlete wellbeing.
Commonwealth Games Australia, along with the Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia had advocated for the funding certainty on behalf of their 49 member sports who represent more than 13 million participants and millions more volunteers across the Australian sporting sector.
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“National Sporting Organisations have been asking for longer-term funding so they can plan further ahead, and so we thank the Australian Government for delivering this high performance funding right through to Paris 2024,” Sukkar said.
The funding certainty also assists in building towards the 2026 and 2030 Commonwealth Games, which will be crucial events on the road to a possible return of the Olympic Games to Australia in Brisbane in 2032.
“This Budget helps future-proof Australian high performance sport as it also enables us to start laying the foundations for a potential home Games in Brisbane in 2032. It is a huge show of support for our current Australian athletes, but also a wonderful commitment to developing our champions of the future,” Sukkar added.
The postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held from July to September and Conde said the AIS would confirm high performance funding to sports for the 2024 Paris cycle, which includes the Birmingham 2022 Games, by the end of the calendar year.
“Our goal is to create a successful and sustainable Australian sporting system, so this is an enormous step,” Conde said.
“The AIS currently provides funding to 56 high performance programs across Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games competition, there are more than 2,600 athletes being supported in the Australian high performance system at any one time. This funding extension will have widespread impact.”
A total of $82.2 million will be invested over the next three years to enable the AIS to carry on its crucial work developing performance pathways for emerging athletes, along with athlete mental health and wellbeing.
“Our work in performance pathways over the past two years has created 126 jobs across sports, boosting a workforce that is dedicated to supporting the progress of Australia’s most talented young athletes. Over the same period, we’ve provided more than $15.4 million in Pathways Solutions grants to 33 different sports, delivering projects in areas such as talent identification, coach development and athlete health.”
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The AIS established an Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team in 2018 and Conde said the renewed funding would enable that vital work to continue.
“Three years ago, the AIS presented a vision to the Australian Government to enhance athlete wellbeing services, including in the area of mental health. We’ve been able to establish vital services such as the AIS Mental Health Referral Network and a national network of 33 Athlete Wellbeing managers in sports right across the country, We’ve launched initiatives to support outstanding high performance sporting cultures, including a sharpened focus on holistic coach development.
“These world-leading services have been able to support Australian sport through a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. Our focus on athlete wellbeing has never been greater and we want to continue enhancing those services. We want to support athletes to be successful in sport and life.”
“The funding injection from this Budget will also have a direct impact on financial support for athletes, allowing us to provide more than $14 million each year in direct athlete grants, known as dAIS.”
Commonwealth Games Australia also welcomed the continued investment in keeping kids active through sport with funding announced in the 2021-22 Federal Budget to extend the Sporting Schools program.
Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said the Budget commitment would span school sport right through to high performance programs ensuring the health and wellbeing of Australians at every level.
“Sport is a centrepiece of our way of life in Australia and the Morrison Government has never been more committed to ensuring it remains accessible to anybody with a passion to compete or just improve their health and wellbeing,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Our Sporting Schools Program has already proved a significant starting block to teach hundreds of thousands of children about the benefits of sport and what they can achieve with hard work and persistence – it will now continue.”
The program, which has reached 77 per cent of schools in its first five years, received a further $40.8 million in Tuesday’s budget to continue the program until the end of 2022.
Commonwealth Games Australia is working on plans to ensure Australian school children can engage and interact with the Australian team before, during and after the Birmingham Games next year.