Work together for grassroots sports

South Australian councils want the next State Government to commit to lifting participation rates in sport and recreation by investing in better co-ordination for local sport and recreation facilities.

The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) is calling on the next government to open school sporting facilities to wider community use and improve co-ordination with council asset planning.

LGASA Acting President Lorraine Rosenberg said some data including a 2009-10 Australian Bureau of Statistics study suggested sporting participation rates were lower in South Australia than in other states and territories.

“The new Adelaide Oval and the South Australian Aquatic and Leisure Centre (Marion) are great sporting venues for South Australia but I’m keenly interested in where our kids and communities play sport every week.

“We need to have world class sporting venues to cater for elite athletes but without local clubs and local sporting grounds elite athletes might never have got their start.

“Sporting clubs and parents do an amazing job at the local level and councils spend around $180 million each year on sport and recreation, assisting local clubs to offer a range of sports to our communities and our commitment rises, in aggregate, each year.

“That’s a huge commitment and so we are keen to look to smarter partnerships to build on it.”

Councillor Rosenberg said applicants for State Government sport and recreation funding should be required to link their projects with Council’s asset management plans, where appropriate.

LGASA’s call for the State Government to require schools to explore opportunities for opening up school sporting facilities to the wider community has the endorsement of South Australia’s peak sporting body Sport SA.

CEO Jan Sutherland said Sport SA would encourage ongoing discussion with schools and the Department of Education and Child Development to explore shared use of facilities with councils and local sporting associations.

It is also essential that applicants for State Government sport and recreational funding ensure that their projects reflect the State Sporting Organisation’s Strategic Plan and their Statewide Facilities Master Plan as well as with Council asset management plans.”

Councillor Rosenberg said LGASA was also calling on the next State Government to establish an ‘offset’ program to reduce water costs to community sporting clubs and groups.

“Clubs are staggering under the weight of their water bills.

“Grounds are not just watered to keep them looking pretty but in the main to provide safe playing surfaces for all people participating in sport.

“Regional councils are, where there are Community Wastewater Management Systems, using treated and recycled water for this purpose and are doing their best to assist clubs but there is only so much that councils can do.”

LGASA wants the next State Government to commit to:
  • introducing a requirement as part of funding agreements with schools, for all schools to explore with their Councils opportunities for shared use of facilities to open up more sport and recreation facilities to sporting clubs and open space access for
  • community groups
  • require applicants for State Government sport and recreational funding to link their projects, where appropriate, to their Council’s asset management plan
  • establish an ‘offset’ program to reduce the costs of water to community sporting clubs and groups.
“Historically, there has been a heavy reliance of local government to build and maintain community sport and recreational infrastructure which is becoming increasingly unsustainable,” Councillor Rosenberg said.

“With limited capital and maintenance funding, local government has risen to the challenge of offering diverse solutions to increasing and changing demands for recreation and sport.

“A strong partnership between local and State Government towards sport and recreational facilities will increase services provided to our communities and would ensure the health and safety of our communities and a better quality of life for all South Australians.”