Australia is recognised internationally as a nation that is very much involved in sport. Many Australians are involved in sport and recreation and there are believed to be many benefits associated with participating in sport and physical activity, including enjoyment, social interaction, health, personal achievement, national pride and community involvement. In many ways sport unites and personifies the nation. Interestingly, Australians were competing internationally as 'Australia' before Australia was federated as a nation (in 1901).
Sport and recreation administration
Governments invest in sport and recreation because it returns both tangible and intangible benefits to the nation. Governments of all levels play an important role in the development of Australian sport and recreation. The provision of quality facilities, whether they be state of the art stadiums or community cycling paths, encourages physical activity and, importantly, good health.
Sport and Recreation Ministers' Council (SRMC)
The SRMC provides the major mechanism for liaison between the Australian Government and state and territory governments on matters concerned with the development of sport and recreation in Australia and, more recently, in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The SRMC is a forum for cooperation and coordination between the respective governments, with its membership comprising ministers with prime responsibility for sport and recreation. The Standing Committee on Recreation and Sport - comprising representatives of the relevant ministers' departments and the Australian Sports Commission - provides advice and administrative support to the SRMC.
Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)
The ASC is the Australian Government agency responsible for the funding and development of sport at the national level. The ASC supports a wide range of programs designed to develop sporting excellence and increase participation in sports by all Australians.
A major program within the ASC is the AIS. The AIS is responsible for developing elite sport on a national basis with a particular focus on success at the international level. For the purposes of elite sports development, it integrates sport science and medical services, sports management activities, funding, athlete welfare and implementation of the technical requirements for sporting success. The AIS conducts a national scholarship program that includes 35 programs in 26 sports, involving approximately 700 athletes.
More information about the ASC and the AIS can be obtained from the web sites, <http://www.ausport.gov.au> and <http://www.ais.org.au>.
National Sporting Organisations (NSOs)
Sports in Australia are managed and coordinated by NSOs. Each organisation manages the participation and development of a specific sport in Australia. Many NSOs receive funding from the ASC to assist them to develop community participation programs and high performance activities. There are about 130 such organisations in Australia. More information about most of these organisations can be obtained from the Australian Sports Directory on the ASC web site at <http://www.ausport.gov.au>.
Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA)
The ASDA is the custodian of Australia's athlete anti-doping program and it plays a leading role, within Australian and international sports communities, in delivering drug testing and education services. ASDA also provides policy advice to sporting organisations and the Australian Government regarding 'drugs in sport' issues. ASDA is an independent statutory authority and was established in 1990. The Australian Sports Drug Agency web site is <http://www.asada.gov.au>.