Minister for Aged Care and Sport - speech - 31 October 2023

Read the transcript of Minister Wells' speech to the Australian Sports Commission's World Class to World Best conference.

The Hon Anika Wells MP
Minister for Aged Care
Minister for Sport

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Good morning, friends.

Thank you, Kieren, for your leadership and this invitation to officially open World Class to World Best.

May I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we gather today, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people - together we stand on the shoulders of 1600 generations of First Nations people and that is our shared history.

With less than 12 months to go until the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, I am pumped for the next opportunity for Australia to rally around our athletes and their support crews  for what will be an incredible event.

I was in Paris last month talking Host City matters and visiting event locations and gained a lot learning from the progress and the challenges their Olympic organizers are facing.

It does have its perils though because If like me you watched the Wallabies lose to Wales, the Lions lose to Collingwood and the Broncos lose to Penrith… it does have its down side if it doesn't work out.

Witnessing the impact, the 24 Games is already having in France has certainly fired up my competitive instincts.

So, I can only imagine how everyone in this room must be feeling.  

The joy felt by our artistic gymnasts who secured Australia’s first women’s team quota place since 2012. 

The thrill for Chelsea Gubecka, our first athlete with a ticket to Paris to compete in the swimming marathon…. hopefully in a clean, healthy, swimmable River Seine

And when I think about the possibilities of Paris, one athlete that regularly comes to mind is Jess Fox.  

Jess was raised in Penrith thanks to Sydney 2000 but was born in France and speaks the language.

Jess has won medals at every Olympics she has competed in.

Her mum, Myriam is her coach and one of the (too few!) Women in High Performance Coaching.

After the Fox’s Paris campaign, they turn their focus to the 2025 Canoe Slalom World Championships held in Penrith- capitalising on our green and gold decade of opportunity. 

We asked Paddle Australia what they needed for Paris, and we are now proud to fund their canoe slalom kayak cross project- which will benefit Jess’ sister, Noemie (pronounced: No-Amy) - among others.

This project gives Paddle Australia their best shot at multiple medals and personal bests.

That medal project is one of 56 projects we were proud to green light by virtue of a $5million funding boost.  

That was in addition to the $15 million allocated to meet the rising cost of travel as part of the Paris 24 Olympic and Paralympic Preparation Fund.

We also distributed an extra $1.3 million targeted at Winter Olympic and LA 2028 sports.

$450,000 in funding to support Talent Identification and Pathway Entry programs for Paralympics Australia. 

And that’s on top of the $257 million dollars invested in Olympic and Paralympic sports across the four years leading up to Paris 2024.

And plus… another recent announcement - $200m for Women and Girls sporting facilities through Play Our Way – the largest infrastructure fund ever for female sport that will help the pathway to high performance.

Delivering funding to where I can see it is needed is one of the best parts of my job.  

And it speaks to one of my key takeaways from France – our prime focus should be on impact rather than legacy.

We don’t need to wait for 2032 to make a mark. We have already begun delivering that impact.

A few weeks ago, I was at the top of the water ramp facility at the Winter Training Centre in Brisbane watching Olympic Champion Jakara Anthony train with the moguls squad.  

The irony of getting a tan on a beautiful Brisbane spring morning, while watching world-beaters ski amongst the gum trees at the home of the 2032 Games was not lost on me.

I bring up these examples – Australia's winter Olympians training in board shorts, and Jess Fox, only 27, starring in a typically European dominated sport.

Because they embody that Australian spirit – don't you dare underestimate us.  

If you can’t tell… I am so proud to represent you as  Australia’s Minister for Sport.

And prouder still of this united, high-performance, strategy built around sustainable success.

Success matters. We saw that through the boot of Cortnee Vine curling the round ball past France’s Solene Durand in the most watched sporting event in Australian history.

The Matildas winning galvanized a nation.

The Matildas winning changed women’s sport forever.

The Matildas not only winning but Winning Well… demonstrated the merits of your thoughtful efforts.

Winning matters. Winning Well matters more.

That World Cup left a high-water line we must exceed with Brisbane 2032.

The Australian Sports Commission, Kieren and I are determined to drive better outcomes for greater and more diverse participation on the green and gold runway.

We work closely together, and we are listening – our Paris 2024 funding announcements reflect that.

On that trip to France, our friends and rivals at the French AIS, INSEP raved about the quality of the High-Performance Strategy that all of you have coalesced around.  

The world is watching us.

Because we have always been proud to set an international standard and it has always been the strength, energy and clear eyed vision  of our people that has made that possible.

This is the thrust of the impact I… and our Government… want to make with you.

We want sport to be more accessible for all people.

We want equity so women thrive on and off field.

We want more women making decisions for more women.

We want more Myriam Fox’s.

We want to create real-world manuals others study for decades.

We want to stage more best-ever events.

We want to win and Win Well.

I hope you all have a rewarding three days and leave this wonderful facility invigorated for Paris and beyond.  Thank you. 



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