High performance

Key activities

Throughout 2017–18, a key priority was the transformation of the AIS in line with a new performance strategy. This transformation included the design and implementation of a new AIS organisational structure, as well as the transition of AIS expertise out to the sector to be embedded within sport to assist in the delivery of their respective national high performance programs.

In 2017–18, the AIS continued to support NSO high performance programs and their athletes as they undertook the final preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Key activity areas included:

  • providing targeted investment to NSOs to enable them to deliver high performance programs that achieve international success
  • providing support and advice to assist sports with high performance strategy, planning and program delivery
  • developing and delivering customised athlete, coach and leader talent initiatives to optimise high performance outcomes
  • planning, coordination and delivery of sports science and sports medicine expertise to ensure Australia’s athletes get the right support at the right time
  • supporting innovative solutions for prioritised sports and promoting the growth of new knowledge and expertise for high performance sport
  • leading a more streamlined high performance network that supports identified athletes and teams across jurisdictions.

Success is measured at a sector level through Australia’s performance at major international events, recognising the lead role the AIS plays in the Australian high performance system and the range of groups that contribute to these results. At the AIS level, we measure the impact of our services through the improvement in capability of NSOs to deliver effective high performance programs and the alignment of the high performance network.

High performance activities are the cornerstone in the delivery of PBS Program Objective A, delivering international sporting success. Program Objective A outlines how the AIS will contribute to PBS Outcome 1.

Our results

Table 1: Sport Australia performance against high performance deliverables

Performance criteria

Australia’s performance at major international events



Number 1 ranked country at 2018 Commonwealth Games

Maintain top 15 at PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games

Maintain top 15 at PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games



Not achieved


Supporting statement

Australia was ranked 1st on the medal tally at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Australia was ranked 23rd on the medal tally at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games

Australia was ranked 15th on the medal tally at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games

Source: ASC Corporate Plan 2017–2021, page 9. Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18, program objective A, page 274.

The Australian team performed with great pride and distinction at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Our overall result of 198 medals—80 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze—resulted in Australia finishing on top of the medal tally at the completion of the Games. A total of 474 individual and team-sport athletes competed at the Games, and of these a total of 328 athletes (69 per cent) received direct funding through the dAIS scheme, including 219 who received additional funding provided by Commonwealth Games Australia. A number of Sport Australia staff were seconded to Commonwealth Games Australia or an NSO during the Commonwealth Games in a servicing or coaching capacity, as well as delivering specific initiatives including the 2018 Global Coaches House—a joint initiative with the International Council for Coaching Excellence, Griffith University and the Commonwealth Games Federation.

The AIS used $15.5 million of one-off funding announced in the 2017–18 Federal Budget to ensure high performance funding was at least maintained at 2016–17 levels to all sport programs competing at the Commonwealth Games. In total, $55.4 million of AIS High Performance funding was provided to Commonwealth Games sports, up from $53.4 million in 2016–17. The dAIS program distributed a total of $12.9 million in 2017–18, with 934 athletes receiving support.

Australia finished 23rd on the 2018 Winter Olympic medal table which, while falling short of our target of a top 15 position, included three first-time Winter Olympic medallists and a number of top six results, indicating a promising future. Australia claimed three medals: two silver and one bronze, equal to our medal performance at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. While this result was in the total medal target of 3–5 medals, it fell short of the gold medal target of 1–2 gold, which would have seen Australia finish closer to a top 15 ranking. The Aerial Skiing team missed a medal for the first time since 2002.

The 2018 Winter Olympics was the largest on record, with 92 countries represented and nearly 3,000 athletes, demonstrating the depth and intense level of competition that Australian athletes face on the world stage. In the four years prior to the Games, the Australian Government invested $16.1 million in high performance funding through the AIS to winter sports, $1.1 million of which was provided directly to athletes through the dAIS funding program.

The 2018 Winter Paralympic Games broke many records, with more athletes from more countries competing, more media and broadcast rights holders attending, and more tickets sold than at any previous Winter Paralympic Games. Twenty six out of the 49 delegations won at least one medal, beating the mark set at Lillehammer in 1994, with a record number of 20 taking gold. Australia finished the competition with four medals—a gold and three bronze—resulting in a finish of 15th on the medal table and our best performance since the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games. Australia fielded its largest Winter Paralympic team, with 12 athletes and three guides, of which seven were first-time Paralympians.

Case study: dAIS

The AIS invests $13 million in direct grants to hundreds of Australian athletes each year. The grants scheme, known as dAIS, supports emerging and podium athletes in Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sports. A total of 328 Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games athletes received direct funding through the dAIS scheme, including 220 of the 261 medallists. Amy Cure, a 2018 Commonwealth Games dual gold medallist, says ‘dAIS allows me to train hard and reach my full potential without having the financial stress of having to have a part-time/full-time job’. Amy is a track cyclist and has been a dAIS recipient since 2011–12.

Through a partnership with Commonwealth Games Australia, an additional $2 million in dAIS grants was provided in the two years leading up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. In this period, 142 medallists received funding, including three gold medallists who would not have received dAIS funding otherwise: Christopher Remkes (Gymnastics); Zac Alexander (Squash) and Elijah Winnington (Swimming).

Table 2: Sport Australia performance against high performance deliverables

Performance criteria

Improved capability of NSOs to deliver effective high performance programs

2017–18 target

The Annual Sport Performance Review shows improvement in the high performance capability of NSOs, compared to 2016–17 results


Significant progress

Supporting statement

Overall 76.4 per cent of sports either maintained or increased their overall rating across the six high performance drivers 2016-17 to 2017–18.

Source: ASC Corporate Plan 2017–2021, page 9. Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18, program objective A, page 274.

The AIS has continued to support NSOs to achieve their performance targets and build capability within sports and more broadly across the sports sector. The Annual Sport Performance Review (ASPR) is Sport Australia’s formal assessment process for funded NSOs, and includes the identification of critical actions, including Sport Australia support, which will enhance NSO capability. The ASPR considers performance across four key areas: governance, high performance, participation and finance.

Sports that sustain podium success on the world stage typically demonstrate excellence in both planning and execution of their high performance programs. As part of the high performance review, sports are assessed against their capability across the six high performance drivers (Athletes, Coaching, Leadership, Daily training environment, Competition, and Research and innovation) and ratings are provided on a five-point scale against the drivers. The assessment is sport specific and must be considered within the context of the capability and resourcing of each sport, including the strengths, current priority areas and critical issues facing the sport across the six drivers. The capability assessment is based on continuous improvement and evolving best practice in key areas of high performance delivery.

In 2017–18, 55 sport programs underwent an assessment of high performance capability, with a total of 27 sport programs (49 per cent) being rated as ‘On Track’, and a further four rated as

‘Performing’ (7 per cent). Twenty-four sport programs (44 per cent) received a rating of ‘Progressing’ and, significantly, no programs received an overall rating as ‘Underperforming’.

Comparing 2017–18 results to 2016–17, an improvement has been seen in the total percentage of sport programs rated as ‘On track’ or above, along with under-performing sport programs moving up to a ‘Progressing’ rating or higher. However, fewer sport programs were rated as ‘Performing’ or ‘Excelling’, which reflects the four-year Olympic cycle, whereby a number of sports reset their strategies and capability programs post the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Table 3: Sport Australia high performance capability assessment results


2016–17 (%)

2017–18 (%)







On track