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Grants boost puts athletes on pathway to podiums

15 November 2021

The Australian Government with the AIS will deliver almost $44million in direct grants to athletes (dAIS) through to Paris 2024, supporting their longer-term medal prospects at Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games.

The dAIS grants scheme is being increased to $14.63m a year and now includes a transition fund to help eligible athletes navigate retirement from high performance sport.

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 Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games.

AIS CEO Peter Conde said: “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.

“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.

“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 here.

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