Sport Participation and Play: How to Get More Australians Moving

Physical activity is good for health, and participation in sport is known to be one of the best ways to be physically active. Participation in sport – and particularly in organised club-based team sport – is known to contribute to positive physical and psychosocial health above and beyond individual-based physical activities. Participation in sport in school and early adult years is also an important contributor to continuing engagement in recreational physical activity in later years. This policy paper is intended to contribute to the development of policy support for participation in sport at all ages and in all communities in Australia. Physical inactivity in modern populations and communities is now recognised as a major contributor to the high rates of preventable chronic diseases across the world and Australia is no exception. One in two Australians has a chronic disease; increasing proportions and numbers of people have two to four chronic conditions and it is estimated that one-third of the burden of these diseases is preventable. Adults and young people in Australia have low to very low rates of physical activity and lower rates of participation in sport. More Australians now watch sport than participate in sport. Compared with previous generations, Australia’s population now has much lower rates of physical activity and, in parallel, rising rates of obesity, preventable chronic diseases and mental health concerns. Encouraging population wide participation in community sport is recognised as one of the most direct and effective measures to lift physical activity rates at all ages. This paper responds to, and proposes policy objectives and strategies to support effective implementation of, the aims of Sport 2030, Australia’s first national sports plan, which was released in mid-2018 and is described as “a comprehensive plan to reshape the face of Australian sport and build a healthier, more physically active nation” [1]. Sport 2030 recognises that participation in ‘sport for all’ is a significant challenge that is important to the health of the nation as well as to pathways to elite sport.



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Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy, Victoria University: 2019