Sport in Australia - Australian Sports Foundation

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Australia has a reputation as a sporting nation, but the truth is that grassroots sport is severely underfunded. Athletes and clubs struggle to fund the equipment, travel, coaching and facility upgrades needed to play sport.

Our mission is to help Australia’s athletes, clubs and organisations turn around this funding shortfall and break down the barriers that stop participation. We believe in a future where everyone can play sport.

Barriers to playing sport

Sport participation has significantly declined over the past decade. Australia is now one of the least active nations in the world. Barriers that stop people from being physically active vary greatly and can include a person's social, cultural, gender and economic backgrounds.



was the average cost to play a season of sport in 2018.  In addition to registration, there are additional costs for equipment, travel and uniforms.

This is a large investment for one season of sport. It places extra stress on families with more than one child playing sport, or children who play more than one sport.


29 %

of Australians live in regional and remote areas. The distance to clubs and facilities can make it hard to take part in sport.

Accessibility, however, goes beyond physical location. It can include access to infrastructure and transportation. Facilities may not have access for people with disabilities, restricting them from being able to participate.


14 hours

is the average paid and unpaid work day for parents, leaving precious little time for healthy activities as convenience has the precedent out of necessity.

Shortcuts like takeaway meals and screen time to relax has become the norm as we find less time to stay physically active.


50 %

of girls turn their backs on sport by the time they turn 17.

According to research from Suncorp, 1 in 3 girls drop out of sport because they lack confidence in their ability.

Research shows that an inclusive club culture and a visible female presence among coaches and administrators are important factors for women and girls. There is currently not enough of either.

The damaging impact of this decline

As participation in sport declines, so does our nation's health, wellbeing and economy.

Physical health

62.8 %

of Australian adults, and 27.4 per cent of children, are overweight or obese.

An increase in sport and physical activity has a positive impact on physical and mental health and a person's overall wellbeing.

People who are obese have a higher risk of serious health problems such as asthma, sleep apnoea and bone and joint problems. They are also at risk of developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and mental illnesses.

The Australian Department of Health estimates that if all Australians met the current guidelines of 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 times a week, it would reduce the risk of:

  • coronary artery disease by 30%

  • type 2 diabetes by around 27%

  • colon and breast cancer risk

  • depression

  • dementia and cognitive decline in older people

Increased activity can also improve your memory, help with learning new skills and improve mood.

Economical impact


is the current cost of inactivity on Australia's annual health bill.

If everyone did an extra 30 minutes of brisk exercise at least 5 times a week, this could drop by 26%. 

Without intervention, Australia could face $88 billion in extra health costs over the next decade.

Mental health


of Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year.

The onset of mental illness is typically around mid-to-late adolescence and Australian youth (18-24 years old) have the highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group. This also coincides with the age that Australians are dropping out of sport.

Other Facts


of children

aged 5-17 do not meet recommended physical activity guidelines



Australian teens rank 140 out of 146 countries for not reaching the recommended daily physical activity


extra health costs

could be faced by Australia over the next decade without intervention


of children

are overweight or obese, a figure that could read 33% by 2025