National Sports and Physical Activity Convention

Read the transcript of Minister Wells' speech at the National Sports and Physical Activity Convention held on Wednesday 13 July 2022.

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

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Good morning to you all and thank you for the opportunity to be in such esteemed company this morning.

I’d also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we gather on this morning, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation together we stand on the shoulders of 1600 generations of First Nations people and that is our shared history. 

I’m glad to be able to join you at this year’s National Sports & Physical Activity Convention because I understand it’s been a very long two years since you were able to come together, and some of the outcomes and consequences of that are what we are looking to solve today, like the decline in community participation.

As a proud Queenslander (go Maroons) and mum of three under five, the presence of local sport in our lives has been the key to staying health, to staying fit and active through hospital visits, through twin pregnancy and all the kids of things that life throws at you.

I’ve spoken before about how starting my local ParkRun in Chermside in Brisbane, has been so important to me and in keeping my community active – especially during and then returning from the pandemic.

Because my observation and my experience, as both a mum in a suburb, and as a local member, before getting this gig, that it is the regulars at the sports clubs that are the first to notice when someone who used to come along in a regular way stops turning up, and they are also the first people to go and ask why and to go and check in on them.

And, I also think that it is sports clubs, when we have disasters in the community, it is the sports clubs that rally around people. And again, in my community at the end of last year, we had two 17-year-olds die in a car crash and it was their footy club that rallied around the families and their siblings, and that hosted the wake and kept everybody together.

So, for me, I think we see the unity and the connection that sport brings, that’s really what inspires me and drives me in this new role as the Minister for Sport.

Now, I understand that you’ve already had Kieren Perkins with you here previously in his new role as the head of the Australian Sports Commission, which forms part of my federal sports portfolio.

So I get to work closely with Kieren and, in us, I think Australian sport has quite the balanced pair.

Kieren himself says that he is an Olympian first and I said that I am a Parkrunner first. And he is bringing four Olympic medals and elite performance experience and knowledge, and I am bringing that suburban mum, post-baby comeback can-do attitude. Because we all know that elite sport and community sport are equally as important.

And in all seriousness, we know that community participation in sport has declined because of covid. I’ve seen that in my neighbours, I’ve seen that in my urban village. That creates significant flow-on effects, and I’m so glad to see that you’re going to be talking about that today.

What a fantastic time it is to get to be the Sports Minister.

We are entering the green and gold decade with Australia set to host a series of top-tier international sporting events over the next 10 years, culminating in the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This decade offers a unique opportunity to reaffirm sport’s pre-eminent place in the nation’s psyche, and create significant socio-economic benefits that will last generations and help drive Australia’s post COVID-19 recovery. 

I know that’s your goal. And I want you to know that it is the new Albanese Labor Government’ goal as well.

This green and gold decade of events will see Australia host some of the world’s largest sporting events in the leadup to the 2032 Brisbane Games, including:

  • FIBA Women’s basketball World Cup ’22
  • FIFA Women’s football World Cup ’23
  • Commonwealth Games ’26
  • Rugby World Cup ’27
  • Netball World Cup ’27
  • Women’s Rugby World Cup ’29.

Significantly, these major sporting events represent all cross-sections of our community.

We know that currently women and girls have barriers that prevent them from taking up sport and staying engaged.

As a mum to a five-year old girl, I want her to have the same love of sport and physical activity, and continuity of sport and physical activity, as her twin brothers. 

That’s why I’m thrilled that so many of these events highlight the involvement of women and girls in sport at all levels.

I want to see our elite sportswomen have more remuneration, I want to see them have better conditions and I want to see them have the ability to negotiate for their rights.

The Australian Government’s investment in sport will reposition the sector, both at the elite and grassroots levels, to help build a healthier nation and a healthier economy, particularly in the post-COVID-19 environment.

A key focus is on supporting and hosting major international sporting events to build momentum across an inclusive event timeline and maximise the economic and social return for our country.

Sport has the power and the platform to promote and help achieve a wide range of Australian Government priorities policies.

These include economic recovery, trade and tourism, diplomacy (particularly in the South Pacific), high performance sport, community sport participation, preventive health, social inclusion and cohesion.

This is a unique period for sport in Australia, and we want to make the most of it. Our priorities in Government include:

  • Improving the physical health and wellbeing for Australians through increased physical activity;
  • We know that before and after these major sporting events there will be increased sports participation, so will support sustainable infrastructure investments to support this growth. 
  • We want to support athletes to achieve greater sporting success – a high performance system focused on achieving enduring podium success;
  • We want to enhance our international reputation and influence – we know Aussies are great sports, let’s show the world.
  • Enhanced sport integrity, to allow confidence that all Australian sport is inclusive, safe, and fair, this is a key priority of mine.  
  • And finally - we want to promote stronger communities through inclusion of minority groups by improved access to sport and fitness. Sport is at the heart of the nation’s spirit and we want all Australians to feel safe and welcome to participate in community sport.

The leadup to Brisbane 2032 provides us with fantastic opportunities to boost and inspire more community participation in sport, which we all know has declined during the pandemic.

So many kids missed their community and school sports during lockdown, we now have an amazing opportunity to reengage our kids and get them back playing with their friends and local sports clubs.

That’s why we’re investing in community initiatives to support sports participation, like the Australian Sports Commission’s Participation Grant program to helping more Australians get active.

These grants have supported sporting organisations across Australia to deliver inclusive, high quality sport programs and experiences.

They’ve already supported more than 900,000 Australians to get more physically active through sport, with an important focus on inclusivity and accessibility.

The Australian Sports Commission’s Sporting Schools program is another great program, leveraging the pivotal role schools play in fostering participation in sport.

The program provides free programs to children in schools across the nation, with 57% of these schools in regional and remote Australia.

Sporting Schools has provided almost 12 million opportunities for children to participate in sport and has partnered with more than 35 national sporting organisations to provide free and fun sporting opportunities.

I had a surreal moment, very soon after getting sworn in, when my group chat lit up with the news that our local school, where our kids go, was going to get a Sporting Schools program and I realised that I now got to have carriage of that program in this new job

The Albanese Government and I look forward to working closely with you all to over this incredible decade in Australian sport. Together we can further increase participation and together we can build a healthy, active and sporting post-COVID-19 Australia.

Finally, I know today will be a great success – of course, look at the hands you’re in – and I thank you for having me this morning. I look forwarding to hearing the outcomes of your deliberations, on women’s participation in particular.




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