History of Australian Sport Policy Series

By Greg Hartung AO

Background and Context

My purpose in compiling this series of papers is to trace the evolution of sports policy in Australia, and to acknowledge those who have been instrumental in framing this history. 

For a country with our deep interest in sport — bordering on obsession — our understanding and appreciation of how government sport policy evolved is surprisingly shallow. The Series traces key milestones along that journey from the emergence of the National Fitness Council in the late 1930s to the Australian Sports Commission in the 1980s and beyond.

My motivation is to record how sport policy started, how it changed and who were among the key practitioners who drove this change. Of course, it was not a straight line of improvement along the way. History is never like that, especially when it is intertwined with politics.

While history can be easily — and often deliberately — overlooked it provides lessons and light for the ongoing journey.

I hope to capture enough of the essence of our national sport policy debate and to stimulate interest among researchers and academics to look more closely at how our Australian sport system has come about. 

Finally, I have approached the task from a personal perspective, as someone who was involved closely in the crafting of sport policy and its implementation.  I apologise in advance if the journalistic style is not to the taste of many professional sports historians. It is my intent that once complete and published in Australian Sport Reflections, the series of papers will be presented in a single book volume  — with an open invitation to our sport academics to delve into the entrails of our sport policy history to get a clearer understanding of what makes Australian sport tick.           

Part 1- Up For The Fight: Commonwealth Government’s First Tentative Steps Toward the Development of a National, Co-ordinated Approach to Fitness, Recreation and Community Sport

Part 2 –  The Golden Oldies: Champions of Emerging Sports Policy

Part 3 – Sport Policy Takes Shape: Malcolm Fraser’s Impact

Part 4 – Swings and Roundabouts: Different Political Philosophies

Part 5 – The ‘nitty gritty’ years from Kevin Newman to Bob Ellicott: Australia Sport Policy 1975-1980

Part 6 – Sport Policy Plays Catch-up: The Australian Sports Council

Part 7 – Our Sport System Shapes Up: Politics, Programs and Progress – Tracking the Evolution of Australian Sport Policy

Part 8 –The ‘Ideas Factory’ of Australian Sport: the emergence of the Confederation of Australian Sport

Part 9 – Sport and the Ministerial Revolving Door:the Ebbs and Flows of Sport Policy and Politicians -and the Confederation of Australian Sport Makes its Presence Felt.

Part 10 –The Voice of Sport – the Story Behind the Confederation of Australian Sport: Sport Finds its Strength in the 1970s and Begins to Influence Government Policy

Part 11 –The Sport Lobby Gathers Strength: How Confederation of Australian Sport Took Up the Fight with Canberra

Part 12 – The Australian Sports Commission and its political struggles: John Brown and Bob Hawke introduce a new era in Australian sport policy

Part 13 – What led to the creation of the ASC…Supporters and Opponents of a Sports Commission line up for a titanic ‘for and against’ struggle

Part 14 – The Australian Sports Commission finishes on top… for now: The ASC survives sustained attack to become a Statutory Authority

Part 15 – Another Attempt to Kill Off the Australian Sports Commission: the 1987 Federal Election Campaign Unfolds as a Sport “Slugfest” Between Supporters and Opponents of the ASC 

Part 16 – The Confederation of Australian Sport Licks Its Wounds After Its Disastrous Brawl with the Australian Sports Commission in 1987 …. It Was To Be a Long Road Back for CAS

Part 17 – The New Broom At CAS Wins Support – CAS Again Becomes A Key Influencer in National Sport Sports Policy At A Critical Time in Sport

Part 18 – The New Australian Sports Commission Hits the Ground Running with Landmark Programs to Develop Australian Sport in the 1980’s

Part 19 – It Comes in Threes! The ASC Confronts more Road Blocks to Secure Its Role as the Peak Federal Sports Agency

Part 20 – A Forced Marriage – the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute Of Sport Tie The Knot

Part 21 – The Idea of an Australian National Sports Lottery Has a Long – and Disappointing – History …but History has Proved No Impediment to Old Arguments in the Quest for the Non-government Dollar

Part 22 – Crusade to Attract Non-Government Cash to the Aid of Sport – and High Hopes for the Australian Sports Foundation

Part 23 – Paralympians Join the Mainstream – Australian Paralympic Committee Brings in Reform Across Sport

Part 24 – Support For Athletes With A Disability: From The Ground Up …The Years Of Struggle To Be Taken Seriously

Part 25 – The Fight To Be Heard! How Athletes With A Disability Made Their Way In Australian Sport…defeat was never an option for our pioneers

Part 26 – The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games Was Rocket Fuel For Athletes With A Disability…The Spectacular Success of Sydney Became a Turning Point for the Paralympic Movement

Part 27 (Final) – Athlete Entry Fees And The Creation Of The Oceania Paralympic Committee – Two Different But Lasting Dividends Of The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games

Last update – 4 April 2022


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