Key activities

In 2017–18, Sport Australia continued to focus on driving demand for lifelong participation in sport and physical activity, including through the delivery of the Sporting Schools program. Sporting Schools was expanded to secondary schools from July 2017 through a targeted program which aims to address the barriers that prevent youth from participating in sports.

Sport Australia has broadened its focus on participation to include sport and physical activity, and has contributed to the development of Sport 2030.

Sport Australia continued to support participation growth through the provision of targeted investment and support to NSOs. Key activities included:

  • providing targeted investment to NSOs to help them grow their participation base
  • providing leadership that assists NSOs with participation strategies, planning and operations
  • developing and disseminating high-quality information, research and data to better understand what is happening in sport and society
  • driving demand for lifelong participation in sport by focusing on younger Australians through the Sporting Schools program and a focus on physical literacy.

Success is measured at both a system level through AusPlay data, and at an output level through the delivery and success of the Sporting Schools program. Participation activities are reflected in PBS Program Objective B, increasing participation in sport. Program Objective B outlines how Sport Australia will contribute to Outcome 1.

Our results

Table 4: Sport Australia performance against participation deliverables

Performance criteria

Increase in the percentage of Australians participating in organised sport (traditional or social)



AusPlay survey results show an increase in sport participation compared to previous year



Supporting statement

AusPlay data for 2017 shows an increase in sport participation with 11.7 million people participating once a year (57.9 per cent) and 4.3 million three times per week (21.5 per cent) compared with 11.3 million (57.0 per cent) and 3.9 million (19.9 per cent) in 2016.

Source: ASC Corporate Plan 2017–2021, page 10. Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18, program objective B, page 274.

AusPlay, first launched in October 2015, provides robust participation data for the government and the sport sector to help better understand the participation landscape and identify strategies to grow participation. The AusPlay survey collects data from 20,000 adults and 3,600 children annually with updated data released every six months. The April 2018 release, which covered the survey period.

January 2017 to December 2017, showed an increase in total participation in sport-related activities1 for people aged 15 years across all frequency categories compared with the April 2017 data.

Table 5: Ausplay results

Total participation in sport-related activities1 for people in Australia aged 15 years and older

Jan 16–Dec 16

Jan 17–Dec 17

1 x per year


11.3 million


11.7 million

1 x per week


8.1 million


8.6 million

3 x per week


3.9 million


4.3 million

AusPlay also collects participation data related to all physical activity, including sport-related and non-sport related activity2, such as walking and yoga. The data for the 2017 survey period showed an increase in physical activity across all frequencies compared to 2016, with 82.2 per cent (16.5 million) participating weekly and 63.0 per cent (12.7 million) participating three times per week. In 2018–19, Sport Australia will expand its focus more broadly on physical activity, in line with our strategic priority to get more Australians moving more often.

Sport Australia has delivered investment for participation initiatives to NSOs, and has continued to work closely with sport in the execution of participation strategies and the provision of research to support participation growth. In 2017, Sport Australia engaged Neilson Sports to conduct extensive research and consultation to identify the key strategy areas that are common to sports with successful sports participation programs. The Drivers of Participation Framework was developed as a result of this work, and Sport Australia tested the framework with selected NSOs in 2017–18.

Sport Australia also continued its work on physical literacy, undertaking the Physical Literacy Pilot Program, which seeks to test physical literacy approaches among diverse population groups and participation settings to determine appropriate methods for implementation and adoption of physical literacy in Australia. Complementing this, Sport Australia commissioned the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth to undertake research around intervention and engagement approaches that would involve parents in child development and sport participation outcomes. Sport Australia also released the Teaching Sport to Children discussion paper, recognising the importance that school-based sport and physical activities play in the development of children’s physical literacy and, ultimately, their lifelong participation in sport and physical activity. Feedback from this discussion paper is being used to improve the way sport and physical activity are delivered to children, and to ensure that the people who deliver sport and physical activity are suitably prepared and supported in their roles.

  1. Sport-related activities include team sports (basketball, football, Australian football, cricket, netball, etc.), athletics (including running and jogging), swimming, cycling and golf, etc. These are typically activities related to NSOs, although the participant may or may not play the activity through an affiliation with the NSO.
  2. Non-sport related activities include, gym/fitness activities, walking and bushwalking, recreational dance, etc. These are typically activities not related to NSOs.

Case study: AusPlay

A focus in the AusPlay April 2018 release was children’s participation, aligning with our priority to have more young Australians participating more often. AusPlay collects data from parents related to children’s organised physical activities, both sport and non-sport related; however, only those activities which are undertaken outside of school hours are within the scope of AusPlay. The overall child participation rate rose in 2017 compared with 2016.


In terms of child participation frequency in 2017:

  • 63% of children participated in organised physical activity outside of school hours at least once per week (up from 56% in 2016)
  • 25% of children participated in organised physical activity outside of school hours at least three times per week (up from 20% in 2016)

Child participation frequency

 1+ per week1+ per month1+ per year3+ per week
Table 6: Sport Australia performance against participation deliverables

Performance criteria

Number of student attendances in the Sporting Schools program






Supporting statement

From 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 there were 1,634,766 student attendances in the Sporting Schools program.

Source: ASC Corporate Plan 2017–2021, page 10. Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18, program objective B, page 274.

Demand for the Sporting Schools program in primary schools is greater than ever, with 5,281 primary programs funded in 2017–18. The Sporting Schools program was successfully rolled out to secondary schools, with a total of 487 schools receiving funding since the expansion launched in July 2017, significantly exceeding the planned target of 300 schools. The targeted program

focuses on Year 7 and 8 students, particularly girls and those in low socioeconomic areas, and the selection of schools has been based on three program goals:

  1. Tackle the decline in sports participation that occurs during adolescence: students aged 12-14, particularly girls.
  2. Increase physical activity in areas with large cohorts of inactive students.
  3. Provide access to tailored resources for schools where there is evidence of disadvantage.

Total student attendances for 2017–18 were 1,634,766—including 1,580,167 primary and 54,599 secondary school student attendances—greatly exceeding the 2017–18 performance target.

This represented an increase of 18 per cent since 2016–17 and brings the total number of student attendances to 4.31 million since the Sporting Schools program commenced in 2015. Student attendances represent the number of participants reported each term, and not the number of individual children, as children may participate more than once per year. Sport Australia does not collect data that allows for the identification of individual children and therefore reports the cumulative total attendances across the year.

There are now 7,705 schools registered for Sporting Schools, representing 81 per cent of all Australian schools3, and 6,570 schools have received funding since the program’s inception. This is a significant achievement towards meeting our purpose of enabling more people to play sport, and demonstrates the successful partnership between Sport Australia, schools and NSOs in delivering the program.

Due to the rapid growth of Sporting Schools, and in order to ensure equitable access to the program, Sport Australia will be implementing an open competitive process for assessing primary school grant applications from Term 3 2018 (July), with priority being given to schools that have received the lowest level of funding in the previous year and schools that propose to engage a higher proportion of their student populations.

  1. Based on Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority data on all registered schools operating in Australia.

Case study: Brunswick South West Primary

Sporting Schools encourages children to try as many sports as possible as you never know which one they’ll fall in love with. Students at Brunswick South West Primary School tried basketball and haven’t looked back.

Since running the Sporting Schools’ Aussie Hoops program, more than 30 students from Brunswick South West now play the sport each weekend.

Physical education specialist Sharron Dickinson says the school has entered five teams in the local domestic competition and created a club called ‘Brunswick Magic’.

‘The children became passionate about the game after developing their skills to a high standard,’ Dickinson says. They had a lot of fun along the way and wanted to keep playing.

‘Having the funding through Sporting Schools allowed our school to get an intensive program with a passionate presenter. In five weeks, basketball was delivered to over 300 students.’

Another highlight of the program was when a ‘satellite group’ from Waratah Special Development School joined the school for some sessions.

  • 300+ students
  • 5 sessions
  • Formed a club
  • 5 teams in a local competition
  • Inclusive — joined with Waratah Special Development School