ASF Study Reveals Australia's Athletes are Living Below Poverty Line

ASF Study Reveals Australia's Athletes are Living Below Poverty Line

October 18, 2023


Between the 16th of February and the 22nd of March 2023, the Australian Sports Foundation conducted the research to produce the “Your Sport Your Say: Running on Empty” report. The study represents the perspectives of 2,304 Australian athletes, spanning more than 60 sports, ranging from mass participation codes to small and emerging sports.

Your Sport Your Say reveals a troubling reality: an overwhelming number of Australia’s elite athletes are grappling with substantial financial pressure, with far-reaching consequences that are impacting their mental health, their family’s financial stability, and their ability to sustain their commitment to the sports they’ve dedicated so much of their lives to.

Most alarmingly, the study revealed that 46% of Australia’s elite athletes over the age of 18 are earning annual incomes that total less than $23,000, which places them below the poverty line.

This issue only seems to be worsening, with 43% of this group reporting that their financial position has deteriorated in the past 12 months due to insufficient income and rising costs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these challenges are taking a toll on the mental health of our elite athletes. One in three female elite athletes surveyed reported experiencing mental health challenges in the past 12 months. Additionally, 37% of elite athletes aged 18-34 cited mental health challenges as their main struggle in the past year.

As a result of these factors, 52% of elite athletes have considered leaving their sport in the past 12 months.




"We are having to choose not to compete at interstate national events due to the cost of travel."

- Elite Athlete, Cycling

"I’m 25 and don’t have a career as I’ve been doing competitive sport since leaving school. I cannot live off my parents forever, so I feel guilty that I don’t have an income to help out with costs."

- Elite Athlete, Basketball

"It is a constant struggle to find further ways to fund my career. Unless I can find further support through sponsors, I will need to start winning more or face the decision to leave the sport."

- Elite Athlete, Tennis


Without rapid intervention, Australia is facing a critical risk of losing its elite athletes. With over half of our athletes are already looking to leave their sport, largely due to escalating financial pressures, it’s evident that urgent action is needed.

At the time of the survey, a staggering 96% of respondents were not fundraising. Moreover, only 17% had used fundraising as a source of income in the past 12 months.

Traditional fundraising methods, such as sausage sizzles and raffles, are labour-intensive and impose additional burdens on athletes who already have limited time, as well as their families and friends.

Fortunately, the ASF offers an online platform dedicated to supporting the growth of sports in Australia, making fundraising a straightforward process. This means that athletes can focus their time where it’s needed most – on their sport.

The ASF is also the only Australian organisation that allows a donor to claim a tax deduction for philanthropic donations to sport, making the benefits two-fold.

Start your fundraising project and begin taking tax-deductible donations today.

Or, explore all of our active projects and make a donation. We currently have thousands of clubs and athletes that need support to reach their goals. Your contribution can play a pivotal role in shaping the future of sports in our nation.

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