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Grants boost a boon for Commonwealth Games podium aspirants

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The Australian Government with the Australian Institute of Sport will deliver almost $44 million in direct grants to athletes through to Paris 2024, supporting their longer-term medal prospects at the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) direct athlete support program known as the dAIS grants scheme is being increased to $14.63m a year and now includes a transition fund to help eligible athletes navigate retirement after their high performance sport careers.

The government support is being boosted with $2m dollars in direct athlete support funding from Commonwealth Games Australia via our Breakthough2022 program.

$500,000 was delivered in April 2021 to 233 able-bodied and Para-athletes in 20 sports in the first phase, including 79 athletes who only received support funding from Commonwealth Games Australia and 154 athletes who received top-up funding from CGA.

BREAKTHROUGH2022 ATHLETE FUNDING PROGRAM AIMING TO DELIVER IN BIRMINGHAM

Commonwealth Games Australia’s $2 million-dollar direct athlete support scheme has been renamed ‘Breakthrough2022’ as the countdown to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gathers pace.

A further $1.5 million in final round payments is set to be delivered in the next few months to help support Birmingham preparations.

The Breakthrough2022 program gives emerging and medal potential Commonwealth Games athletes the opportunity to receive direct financial assistance which may have been otherwise unavailable, or to provide more than what would otherwise be available to them.

The Breakthrough2022 program is part of the $13 million funding package announced by Commonwealth Games Australia in April 2019 to assist with preparations for Birmingham and complements the Green2Gold2Great sport program funding, with the second round of $3.4 million announced recently.

GOING FROM GREEN TO GOLD TO GREAT THE GOAL OF FUNDING PROGRAM

Commonwealth Games Australia’s sports and athlete support funding program has been renamed Green2Gold2Great.

The biggest shift in the new-look dAIS grants scheme is to provide a longer term incentive, rather than a short term reward, to nominated athletes to ensure they reach their peak at pinnacle events including the Commonwealth Games, Olympics and Paralympics.

CGA chief executive officer Craig Phillips AM welcomed the increased support and the move to a more future-focused program.

“With just over 250 days to the Birmingham Games we are seeing many of our Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic athletes returning to training, with many making the decision to continue with their sporting endeavours through to Birmingham and on to Paris in 2024,” Phillips said.

“We know the cost and dedication required to pursue sporting dreams so this direct athlete support boost will provide important support for many athletes to help them achieve their goals.”

AIS CEO Peter Conde believes the athlete funding will assist athletes to experience long-term success.

“dAIS grants will become future-focused. It will be about supporting athletes to build longer-term plans towards success, rather than rewarding past successes based on short-term milestones,” Conde said.

“The emphasis will be on identifying and supporting those athletes who are on an upward trajectory and will be challenging for medals at the next Olympic, Paralympic or Commonwealth Games.

“The AIS spent two years consulting on these changes, including feedback from athletes, and we believe it gives athletes greater confidence and support to focus on their ultimate goals. dAIS grants will now be reviewed annually, instead of twice a year. That immediately gives athletes more stability and certainty over their future funding.”

Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said the Government was proud to continue backing the development of Australia’s athletes.

“The recent Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are proof our athletes are great ambassadors for our country,” Minister Colbeck said.

“A total 88 per cent of athletes in the Australian Paralympic team and almost 70 per cent of the Olympic team in Tokyo received dAIS grants during the extended five-year build-up to the Tokyo Games. Our aim is to increase these numbers even further by Paris 2024.

“The Australian Government has worked with the AIS to grow dAIS grants from $12m a year in 2018 to now more than $14.6m a year, which supports about 800 athletes at any one time.

“These grants are means-tested, ensuring they go to those athletes who need it most. Top-tier athletes are eligible for grants of up to $35,000 a year, which is consistent for both Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”

The AIS Athlete Advisory Committee have been part of the consultation since 2019 and two-time Olympic paddler Alyce Wood said there was broad endorsement for the new guidelines.

“As athletes we naturally want to perform at every event we compete in, but it’s reassuring to be able to focus on and build towards those longer-term goals like the Olympics, Paralympics, and Commonwealth Games, without the pressure of funding necessarily hanging on every result along the way,” Wood said.

“The AIS Athlete Advisory committee represents a whole lot of different sports, including individual and team sports across the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games. There’s a lot of positive new features, this is a massive step forward.”

A fund for retiring dAIS athletes is one new feature of the new-look scheme.

Athletes accessing the top tiers of dAIS will be able to apply for a one-off grant to support their transition.

Conde said, “The AIS wants athletes to be successful in sport and life beyond competition, so this is another step in the holistic support of athletes as they move on from sport and continue to be important representatives in their communities.

“It’s important that for athletes to be eligible for this grant they’ll need to work with their national sporting organisation on a meaningful transition plan, which enables athletes to maintain a strong connection with their sport.”

The new dAIS guidelines will apply to Summer Olympic and Paralympic sports immediately. There will be a transition period for Winter Games athletes and Commonwealth Games athletes, with their immediate focus on competing in Beijing and Birmingham next year.

The new dAIS guidelines, including FAQ’s, are available at www.sportaus.gov.au/grants_and_funding/dais/info

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