Australian athletes, especially emerging athletes of the future, will benefit from a major new funding commitment of more than $54million over the next two years to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), announced in last night’s Federal Budget.
Sport Australia Chair John Wylie and AIS CEO Peter Conde welcomed the funding boost which will provide substantially improved development opportunities for talented young athletes around the country. It will also fund enhanced athlete wellbeing and personal development initiatives, and improved means-tested financial support for athletes.
Wylie said the development of emerging young athletes was a critical challenge facing Australian sport.
“This funding is critical to the future of Australian sport. It will substantially improve the AIS’s ability to discover and support our champions of the future. It will provide better opportunities for young Australians everywhere around the country to realise their potential to graduate from club sport to representing their region to their State and ultimately their country,” Wylie said.
“In Olympic sport, it can take eight to 12 years to identify a talented young athlete with potential and develop them to be contending for medals at major international events. It requires long term planning and commitment; it’s an investment in the future.”
AIS CEO Peter Conde said: “Sports have been telling us that athlete pathways are an ongoing challenge, so this funding is a great result for the future of Australian high performance sport. Since the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics we’ve seen the retirement of long-standing champions such as Anna Meares in cycling, Kim Brennan in rowing and Kurt Fearnley in para-athletics. This is about finding the future champions that will lead our next generation of athletes and inspire Australians.
“This funding will enable the AIS, in partnership with sports and the National Institute Network, to place a greater focus on things such as talent identification and broadening our specialist coaching support for young athletes.
Conde said the new funding would also enable the AIS to invest more directly in sports and athletes.
“Athletes are at the very heart of what we do and so the AIS will be increasing our annual direct support grants – dAIS – to athletes by more than 16 per cent to $14million a year,” Conde said. “These dAIS grants are in addition to AIS sport investment and they are means-tested, so this support goes directly to athletes who need it most to allow them more time to train, prepare and compete.”
Paddle Australia welcomed the funding boost and the targeting of the future generation of high-performance paddlers
“Paddle Australia is really excited to hear the new funding announced in the budget targeting our future generation of athletes. Talent Identification and development programs will not only assist us to find more Olympic Champions but will also ensure more young athletes are remain active and motivated in Canoe/Kayak,” Paddle Australia’s Performance Director Shaun Stephens said following the announcement.
“The investment in additional coaching support for this young group of athletes is also welcome and will assist Paddle Australia to not only develop more athletes but more coaches as well. Paddle Australia are well placed to capitalise on these areas with terrific pathway programs already established in Sprint and Slalom.”
The wellbeing and personal development of athletes also continues to be an important AIS priority. Further investment will now occur in areas such as mental health, athlete engagement with their communities and transition support for retiring athletes. The AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement division, launched last year, will be able to provide greater support for athletes so they are equipped to enjoy life success and not just podium success.
“The AIS recently launched a national Mental Health Referral Network and we have plans to expand this service to benefit even more athletes,” Conde said. “We want athletes to be able to transition successfully to life after sport too, so the AIS will invest in support for athletes at the end of their sporting careers.”
The AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement division has funded and embedded Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement managers in 15 sports over the past six months, including at Paddle Australia with Matt Murphy joining the performance program in this role last December and working across both the sprint and slalom programs to provide support in areas of mental health, career and education, community engagement, conduct and professionalism and personal development.
The Australian Government’s Federal Budget delivered more than $158million of new investment to Sport Australia and the AIS, to deliver on the national sport plan, Sport 2030. It includes additional funding for participation initiatives such as the national Sporting Schools program and Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program.
“Sport Australia and the AIS thanks the Australian Government and Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie for this investment. It is recognition that sport and physical activity are incredibly important to Australians,” Wylie said.