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Australia's Winning Edge - High Performance Strategy


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Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce
the new chairman of the Australian Sports

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Commission, Mr John Wylie.

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Thank you Simon and what a wonderful video
that was.

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To the Senator the Hon Kate Lundy, Minister
for Sport, Multicultural Affairs and Assisting

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Industry and Innovation; to sporting organisation
presidents and CEOs here today; to athletes,

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coaches and other distinguished guests.

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Welcome to the MCG, the spiritual home of
Australian sport, for today’s significant

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announcement - an important juncture in Australian
sport.

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I respectfully acknowledge that we meet today
on the traditional land of the Wurundjeri

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people of the Melbourne area and the Kulin
nation, traditional owners and custodians

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of the land on which we meet and pay my respects
to their elders, past and present.

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Ladies and gentlemen, as Chair of the Australian
Sports Commission, I am delighted today to

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launch our new strategy for Australian high
performance sport.

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While the focus today is on our high performance
sporting system, the Australian Sports Commission

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also has responsibility for investment in
and promotion of broad community participation

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in sport and in ensuring that values of integrity
in sport are upheld.

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These are fundamental goals of the Commission,
equal in importance to elite international

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success.

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Our new high performance strategy, called
Australia’s Winning Edge, proposes simple

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but far-reaching changes in how the Australian
Sports Commission will invest to improve our

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international sporting performance for the
next decade and beyond.

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And change is essential.

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We all know and love the fact that Australia
is a proud sporting nation with a phenomenal

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history of international success and achieving
against the odds.

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We have achieved beyond expectation for many
years based on our ability to unearth, develop

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and support champions, and our sheer love
of sport.

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The fact that I can just say the first names
of people, and you know who they are, is instructive:

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Catherine, Ian, Sally, Dawn, Herb, Ricky,
Ron, the Don, Wally, Yvonne, Betty, Cadel

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and Petria, just to name a few.

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The outstanding performances of our Paralympians
in London also show what we are capable of.

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The Australian Paralympic team ranked equal
fourth on gold medals in London, with 32 gold

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out of an 85 total medal haul.

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However, as much as we might like it to be
the case, past success is no guarantee of

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future performance. The evidence shows the
challenge ahead.

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Olympic Games results since Sydney show the
following.

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Our performances have been declining.

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Australia is winning less total medals each
Games than the one before.

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Australia is also achieving less top eight
placings – the launching pad to the podium.

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And our conversion of those top 8 placings
into medals is below the average of the top

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15 nations at the Games.

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This trend goes beyond just the Olympic Games.

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2012 is likely to see the lowest number of
Australian world champions across priority

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sports in the past twelve years – an average
of 17 across the year and 13 currently, slightly

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more than half the level of a decade ago.

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This is not in any way to diminish the achievements
of our athletes, who remain as talented, committed,

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passionate, hard working and fiercely competitive
as ever.

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But the plain truth is that success at the
pinnacle of international sport is today much

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more difficult to achieve than in the past,
and that international competition in sport,

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as in business, is intensifying and improving
every day.

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So as the dust settles from the London Games,
there is much to be done.

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While the system is far from broken, the case
for significant improvement is clear.

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The Commission’s approach in this task is
informed by six simple principles.

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First, success in elite international sport
matters to Australians.

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It’s central to who we are as a people;
it sets a positive example to all Australians

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about achievement, endeavour, courage, integrity,
sportsmanship, healthy lifestyles and community

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cohesion; and it enhances our standing on
the world stage.

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Second, we will not lower our expectations
for success and achievement in international

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sport.

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The Crawford Report into sport a few years
ago advocated a lowering of expectations.

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We reject that notion.

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Thirdly, we have an obligation to all Australians
to ensure that the investment of their money

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in high performance sport – around $170
million per year – is made as wisely and

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effectively as possible.

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Substantial opportunities appear to exist
today to improve efficiency, reduce duplication,

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reduce complexity, and improve collaboration
in the Australian sporting system. These can

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and must be addressed.

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Fourth, our high performance goals have to
be achieved within existing Government funding.

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In these challenging economic times, it is
not reasonable to expect, nor will we ask

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for, more Government funding.

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Fifth, our funding for general sports participation
programs must not be impacted by changes in

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our high performance system. Promoting broad
community participation in sport is and remains

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equal in importance to the Commission as high
performance success.

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And sixth, our commitment to integrity in
sport remains paramount - a non-negotiable

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requirement for our athletes and sports, irrespective
of our hunger for success.

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But change we must and will.

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Until now, there has been an absence of clear
goals for which sports, and the Australian

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Sports Commission, can be held accountable.

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It is plainly apparent around the world that
elite sport has become a hard-nosed business.

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If we’re going to be successful in this
environment, we have to have a business plan

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ourselves, that starts with clear and measurable
goals and objectives.

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So Australia’s Winning Edge articulates,
for the first time, a clear set of transparent

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goals for Australian sport.

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These targets will sharpen the focus of all
involved in sport, including ourselves at

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the Commission.

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Our targets reflect what we believe is attainable
and are about sustained success.

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We are committed to achieving: top 5 in the
Olympic Games and retaining our top 5 position

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in the Paralympic Games; 20 or more world
champions every year; number one nation in

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the Commonwealth Games; and a top 15 finish
in the winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

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This is a real challenge - we clearly understand
the magnitude of the task ahead for the Commission,

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for Australian sport and for our athletes
and coaches.

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But we are also willing to show faith, back
our athletes and adjust the way we invest

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in sport to give them every opportunity to
realise their dreams and those of the nation

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with them.

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One thing I’ve learnt from business is that
targets are meaningless without a clear link

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to actions.

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That is why I am also announcing today, alongside
Australia’s Winning Edge, a new set of principles

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for investment in high performance sport by
the Commission.

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These are transparent, uncompromising, business-like
and will apply to all high performance sports

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funded by the Commission.

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They are also a first for Australia.

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CEO Simon Hollingsworth will say more about
these shortly, however these principles link

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investment to: contribution by sports to Australia’s
Winning Edge targets - our investment will

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be explicitly designed to improve the prospects
for international success over the short,

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medium and long term; and high standards of
governance, accountability and commercial

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acumen being demonstrated by sports, which
should allow them amongst other things to

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increase their revenues over time from sources
other than the Government.

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Accountability, governance and smart management
matter for many reasons.

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They matter as a point of principle because
many Olympic sports are spending primarily

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taxpayer money on high performance programs,
and a lot of it.

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They matter because they are prerequisites
for success in a world where international

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competitors are sharply better organised and
funded than even a decade ago.

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Witness the transformation in British sporting
achievement at the London Olympics, a performance

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it would be foolish to attribute solely to
a hometown effect.

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And they also matter if our traditional ASC
funded sports want to remain competitive here

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in our own backyard, facing ever-better funded
and administered professional sporting code

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competitors.

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So we are putting the onus on sports to step
up and rise to the challenge of the new competitive

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environment, abroad and at home.

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What must go hand in hand with increased accountability
being placed on sports, is for the sports

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to be given increased responsibility to make
their own decisions on implementation of their

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high performance programs - in close consultation
of course with the AIS and the Commission,

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given the taxpayer money involved.

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In this way, sports meeting ASC governance
requirements will genuinely own their national

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plans and have the freedom to implement them
accordingly.

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The Commission and the Australian Institute
of Sport (the AIS) need to lead from the front

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on change, and we will.

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As a result we will make a number of changes
in our own organisation.

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The Board of the ASC has decided to simplify
the high performance investment process to

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one sole-source approach, managed by the AIS
as Australia’s national high performance

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agency.

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Accountability and responsibility within the
Commission will be transparent and clear,

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compared to the current structure where two
internal groups allocate high performance

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funding to the same sports.

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As a result, life will also become a lot simpler
for sports seeking funding from the Commission.

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This change will strengthen the AIS’s role
as the centrepiece of Australia’s high performance

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system.

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I want to emphasise this point, these changes
will strengthen the role of the AIS at the

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centre of Australian high performance sport.

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The AIS will remain wholly owned by the Australian
Sports Commission, so the Commission will

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retain active oversight of the high performance
system.

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There will be changes in the way AIS programs
are delivered, which Simon will speak to shortly.

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Program delivery and allocation mechanisms
might change, but overall funding across sports

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in total will not be reduced.

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The final key plank of this direction is in
fact the most important: to provide more support

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for those who step up into the arena, the
pool, the track, the field, and eventually

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the podium – the athletes.

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Through the AIS, we will seek to increase
financial support mechanisms for athletes

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and coaches to ensure that our athletes have
the right support at the right time along

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their pathway to international success.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we believe that Australia’s
Winning Edge strikes the right balance between

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empowering sports and getting the best resources
to athletes and coaches, while putting in

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place strong accountabilities.

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By working together with our partner sporting
organisations, with a clear and aligned strategy,

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I have no doubt we will achieve the Winning
Edge for Australia.

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Exciting times lie ahead for Australian sport.

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The Sochi Winter Games and Glasgow Commonwealth
Games are looming large on the horizon and

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planning and preparation for the 2016 Rio
Games is already underway.

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In 2018, we welcome the Commonwealth Games
back to Australia and will show our sporting

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strength on home soil.

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In between there are a multitude of world
championships, world cups, grand slams, test

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series, Ashes campaigns and international
competitions to savour.

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The Australian Sports Commission believes
that the strategy will make us genuinely match

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fit to enjoy the success in the future that
we have enjoyed in the past.

Australia's Winning Edge is our game plan for moving from world class to world best.

Developed in partnership with Australia's high performance network, Australia's Winning Edge provides the high performance sports sector with clear performance targets and a framework for collaboration from 2012-2022.

Australia's high performance is about:

  • consistent and sustainable success for Australian athletes and teams on the world stage
  • greater levels of accountability for performance results
  • improved governance structures and contemporary reporting and monitoring of performance
  • engaging, uniting, inspiring and motivating all Australians.

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