Without specialised staff and a clear, consistent and transparent strategy that gives the Australian Institute of Sport its driving direction, it cannot fulfil its role of fostering world class athletes.
The Australian Institute of Sport must be taken seriously and properly resourced if our budding athletes are expected to succeed.
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Since its founding in 1981, the Australian Institute of Sport has been a vital part of our sporting prowess and is a proud symbol of our Capital. It been responsible for training some of our sporting legends, including Michael Klim, Cadel Evans and Sam Stosur.
But the Australian Institute of Sport is under threat due to staffing cuts and neglect. Since the Coalition got into government in 2013, the number of Canberra-based staff fell from 173 to 140. It has lost 70 sports specialists, and executives have indicated that there are more losses to come. Several sporting bodies have chosen to move their operations to other parts of Australia and many have avoided using the Institute altogether. Visitors lament that the campus is more like a ‘ghost town’ than a place where you can witness the next legend being made.
Despite the Turnbull government beginning development of a National Sports Plan last year, the Australian Institute of Sport seems to have been an insignificant part of the discussion. This has been confirmed by recent announcements that a business case for the future of the AIS is only now being developed, despite the Plan having already been released. This also comes after the Government has cut a swath of jobs from the Institute, including specialists that contribute years of experience in their craft. Rob de Castella, a former Director of the Institute and Australia’s greatest ever marathon runner, tweeted on 31 July:
‘The AIS was the biggest innovation and revolution in Australian sport, the greatest opportunity & service to the most talented & dedicated athletes, coaches, scientists & medicos. It is over #RIPAIS’.
I am calling on the government to stop the job cuts and get to work on a strategic plan for positioning the Australian Institute of Sport at the heart of Australia’s national sporting strategy.