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AIS program enhancing women’s sport and athlete development

12 Sep 2017


Australian Sports Commission (ASC) CEO Kate Palmer said athlete development, transition and growing women’s sport would continue to be key priorities for the ASC as she launched Change The Game, an AIS program designed to enhance links between elite female athletes and corporate Australia.

Following a successful pilot program, BlueScope will again partner the AIS for Change The Game 2017-18, which sees 10 elite female athletes and 10 business professionals brought together for mutual learning and development opportunities over the next 12 months. The athletes, from nine different sports, include Olympians, Paralympians, Commonwealth Games medalists, world champions and emerging talent.

“Change The Game is such an important program because it meets two of the ASC’s key objectives: promoting further growth of women’s sport and also enhancing the career pathway opportunities of our elite athletes,” Palmer said.

“The growth of women’s sport in recent years has been extremely encouraging, highlighted by competitions such as the Women’s Big Bash League in cricket, the AFL Women’s League and the Super Netball, plus the success of national teams like the Women’s Rugby Sevens and Matildas football team. Now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal, but to build on that momentum and ensure the promotion of women’s sport and our female athletes continues to grow.

“Athlete transition is a key area of focus for the ASC. The AIS Personal Excellence strategy already invests significantly in athlete transition and Change The Game is another avenue to support our Australian athletes on their sporting journey and in the transition beyond their athletic careers. Change The Game provides a platform for participants to exchange diverse experiences, be exposed to new professional networks and explore different perspectives, capabilities and new ways of thinking.”

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Change the Game 2017 participants, rear, from left: rower Fiona Albert, hockey player Rachael Lynch, BlueScope's Kristie Keast, ASC CEO Kate Palmer, cricketer Ellyse Perry, canoeist Alyce Burnett and cyclist Jessica Gallagher. Front, from left, lawn bowler Rebecca Van Asch, swimmer Belinda Hocking, track athlete Melissa Duncan and swimmer Lakeisha Patterson.

BlueScope’s Managing Director and CEO Paul O’Malley said the company had been encouraged by the synergies between the sporting and corporate worlds.

“We continue to be excited about how this program can help make our next generation of leaders, elite performers,” O’Malley said. “It supports the BlueScope diversity strategy – to foster a talented workforce comprised of diverse opinion, gender, background, education, culture, experience, and beliefs. We are confident our emerging leaders will learn a lot from some of Australia’s most talented and elite sportspeople.”

Three-time Paralympian and former world champion javelin thrower Madeleine Hogan is a direct success story of the pilot program and now works at BlueScope.

“Change The Game came along at the perfect time for me as an athlete who was injured and looking to transition to a career after sport,” Hogan said. “It was wonderful opportunity to be exposed to different thoughts and perspectives of the business world, but it also created a genuine support network among all the athletes involved in the program. I’m rapt to see it continue.”

Change the Game athletes: Fiona Albert (Rowing), Alyce Burnett (Canoeing); Melissa Duncan (Athletics); Jessica Gallagher (Cycling); Belinda Hocking (Swimming); Rachael Lynch (Hockey); Lakeisha Patterson (Swimming); Ellyse Perry (Cricket); Rebecca Van Asch (Bowls); Jo Weston (Netball).

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Gold Coast 2018 is the 5th Commonwealth Games to be hosted by Australia.

Quick numbers

11.6 million Australian adults participate in sport or physical activity three or more times per week.
3.2 million Australian children participate in organised sport or physical activity outside of school.
$10 billion is spent annually by Australians on fees for participation in sport or physical activity.
17 million Australian adults participate in a sport or physical activity every year.