4901.0 - Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2009 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/10/2009   
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An estimated 1.7 million (63%) children participated in at least one organised sport outside of school hours, in the 12 months to April 2009. Participation in organised sport was highest among 9 to 11 years olds at 68% compared with 58% for 5 to 8 year olds and 65% for 12 to 14 year olds. Participation rates were higher for boys across all age groups compared with girls, with the greatest difference being between 12 to 14 year olds (boys 74% compared with girls 55%). (Table 9)

An estimated 37% (1.0 million) of children did not participate in any organised sport, 33% participated in one sport and 30% (807,100) played two or more organised sports during the 12 month period. (Table 10)

Participation rates in organised sports varied between the states and territories, ranging from 58% in Tasmania to 71% in the Australian Capital Territory. (Table 9)

Sports with most participants

In 2009, the most popular sport for children was swimming with a participation rate of 19% (502,900). This was followed by outdoor soccer at 13% (360,400) and Australian Rules football at 9% (235,100). For boys, the most popular sports were outdoor soccer (20% or 277,800), swimming (17% or 240,100) and Australian Rules football (16% or 223,700). In comparison, the sports most popular among girls were swimming (20% or 262,800), netball (17% or 225,000) and gymnastics (8% or 101,200). (Table 1)


Frequency and duration

For the 1.7 million children who participated in organised sport, it is estimated that outside of school hours:
  • they participated in sport (playing and training) on average 70 times in the 12 month period (Table 11)
  • an average of 5 hours in the last school fortnight was spent playing and training (Table 14)
  • the average number of hours of participation increased with age: 5 to 8 year olds participated in sport for an average of 4 hours; compared with 12-14 year olds who participated for 7 hours on average. (Table 14)


Organised sport

During the 12 months prior to April 2009, 1.0 million children (37%) did not participate in any organised sport outside of school hours. A higher proportion of girls (44%) did not participate in organised sports than boys (30%). (Table 10)

Organised sport and cultural activities

Rates of participation in organised sports and cultural activities varied between age groups. The highest rates of non-participation were amongst 5 to 8 year olds (32%), followed by 12 to 14 year olds (24%) and 9 to 11 year olds (21%). (Table 16)

Children born overseas in non main-English speaking countries were less likely to participate in selected sport or cultural activities (46%) than Australian born children (25%) or children born in other main English-speaking countries (United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, United States of America and New Zealand) (24%). (Table 16)

Children in one-parent families were less likely to participate in these activities (37%) than children in couple families (23%). (Table 16)