The organisation of sport in Australia has been largely determined by its Federal system of government – Australian Government and six states and two territories governments and local governments. All three levels play an important role in terms of funding, policies and facilities. Each major sport is managed by a national sports organisation, with state counterparts that manage community sporting clubs. Umbrella or peak organisations represent the interests of sports organisations or particular sport issues. Education sector plays a small role through universities and schools. Private sector's involvement is extensive in professional sport through facilities, club ownership and finance/sponsorship.
Government involvement in sport up until the 1970s was fairly limited with local governments playing a major role through the provision of sporting facilities. However, this changed over the next two decades with an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 2001–2002 finding that approximately $2 billion was spent on sport by three levels of government – 10 per cent from the Australian Government, 40 per cent from state and territory governments, and the remaining 50 per cent from local government. State, territory and local government spending was predominantly directed to facilities and their upkeep. This amount most likely has increased since that survey.
National Approach In 1973, the Recreation Minister's Council was established to provide a forum for Australian Government and State and Territory Minister's responsible for sport and recreation to discuss matters of interest. With government's taking an increased involvement in sport, it became the Sport and Recreation Minister's Council. More recently is referred to as Meeting of Sport and Recreation Ministers. The Meeting is assisted by the Committee of Australian Sport and Recreation Officials (CASRO) previously called the Standing Committee on Sport and Recreation (SCORS). The Meeting works cooperatively on issues such as match fixing, sport participation and water safety. In 2011, Minister's signed the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework. The framework "provides a mechanism for the achievement of national goals for sport and active recreation, sets out agreed roles and responsibilities of governments and their expectations of sport and active recreation partners."
In 1993, National Elite Sports Council was established to provide a forum for communication, issues management and national program co-ordination across the high performance in Australia. It includes representatives from AIS, State Institute /Academies, Australian Olympic Committee, Australian Paralympic Committee, and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association. In 2011, National Institute System Intergovernmental Agreement provides "guidance on how the sector will operate, with a principal focus on the delivery of the high performance plans of national sporting organisations."
Australian Government provided small amounts of funding in the 1950s and 1960s through the support of the National Fitness Council and international sporting teams such as the Australian Olympic team. The Australian Government's serious involvement and investment into sport came with it establishing the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 1981. AIS was set up to improve Australia's performances in international sport which had started to decline in the 1960s and 1970s culminating in Australia winning no gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. In 1985, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) was established to improve the Australian Government's administration of sport in terms of funding, participation and elite sport. The 1989 Senate Inquiry into drugs in sport resulted in the establishment of the Australian Sport Drug Agency (now called Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA)) in 1990 to manage Australia's anti-doping program. The Minister for Sport is supported by the Office of Sport located in their department. The Office's works with the key agencies ASC and ASADA in the development of sport. Currently, the Office's main focus is in integrity of sport and bidding and hosting of major events in Australia.
State and Territory governments have a department with responsibility for sport and recreation. These departments provide assistance to state sports organisations, develop and manage sporting facilities, provide financial assistance for major sporting events and develop policies to assist sports across their state or territory. Each Australian State and Territory has established its own institute/academy of sport – ACT Academy of Sport (established 1989), New South Wales Institute of Sport (1996), Northern Territory Institute of Sport (1996), Queensland Academy of Sport (1991), South Australian Sports Institute (1982), Tasmanian Institute of Sport (1985), Victorian Institute of Sport (1990) and Western Australian Institute of Sport (1984). These institutes/academies and the AIS work together through the National Institutes Network and the National Elite Sports Council. Victoria and New South Wales have established regional academies.
Many state governments have facility management trusts to manage their major sporting precincts and facilities. Examples are Sydney Olympic Park Authority (New South Wales) and State Sports Centre Trust (Victoria).
There are 560 local councils across Australia. Local governments generally focus on the provision of facilities such as swimming pools, sporting fields, stadiums and tennis courts. Investment into sports development programs for local clubs is generally limited. In national sporting issues, local governments may be represented by Australian Local Government Association.
In 2012, there were 102 national sports organisations (NSO) in Australia recognised by the Australian Sports Commission. 63 NSO's received funding from ASC in 2011–2012. All of these organisations are affiliated to an international organisation and where appropriate to the Australian Olympic Committee, Australian Paralympic Committee, Australian Commonwealth Games Association and the Confederation of Australian Sport. These organisations manage the participation and high performance sport programs of the sport.
Several of the national sports organisations run professional sports competitions/leagues:
There are other leagues where athletes receive little remuneration. These include:
National sports organisation generally have eight affiliated state sports organisations that manage the activities of clubs in their state. This means there are over 800 state sports organisations in Australia. Most states have an organisation that represents their interests. These include Vicsport, NSW Sports Federation, ACTSPORT, Tasmanian Sports Federation, Western Australian Sports Federation, Sport SA, and Sports Federation of Queensland.
Community sporting clubs are regarded as the lifeblood of Australian sport. These sporting clubs are affiliated to national and state sporting organisations. In 2010, Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 2.3 million or 14% of the adult population undertook voluntary work with the sport and recreation organisations, most likely to be sporting clubs. At the club level, volunteers include coaches, officials and administrators. Clubs generally receive their limited income from membership fees. Professional sporting clubs have been established to compete in national and international leagues such as Australian Football League, National Rugby League, A-League, ANZ Championship and Super 15.
University sport in Australia is based primarily around the provision of sporting clubs and facilities. Only a few universities offer individual athletic scholarships. This is very different from the United States system organised by the National Collegiate Athletic Association which has well organised sports programs with scholarships. There has been a recent trend for universities to become involved with professional sporting teams. University of Canberra is a major sponsor the ACT Brumbies and Victoria University has developed a strong partnership with the Western Bulldogs.
Most State Education Departments have established special sports high schools. These schools offer opportunities for talent sports students to develop sport skills in an environment that balances their sporting and education commitments. Westfield Sports High in Sydney is an example of a specialist school.
There are a range of peak or umbrella organisations that represent the specific interests and provide advice to governments, sports organisations and the community.
This sector contributes to sport through facilities, finance and sponsorship. All professional sports competitions and their teams rely heavily on private sponsorship. This sponsorship is provided to national sports organisations and community clubs but at greatly reduced level. Only high-profile sports organisations such as Australian Football League, Australian Rugby Union, Australian Rugby League Commission and Football Federation Australia have substantial sponsorship income. Many sporting venues have been renamed to include the sponsor's name to increase revenue. Examples include Etihad Stadium, Suncorp Stadium and Paterson's Stadium. Many professional sporting teams have a private ownership model. This is a growing trend but it has not been without its difficulties.