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Sport in Rural and Regional Australia
Prepared by: Greg Blood, AIS Emeritus Researcher. Evaluation by: Russell Hoye, Pro ViceChancellor (Research Development) & Director La Trobe Sport, La Trobe University (April 2016). Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN). Last updated: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport (June 2017). Introduction: Sport plays an important role in rural, regional and remote Australia. Sport has been found to contribute to community identity, sense of place, social interaction [Tonts and Atherley 2010; Spaaij 2009] and improved health [Townsend 2002]. Rural and regional Australian communities are increasingly hosting sporting events that provide an economic stimulus and a sense of pride. These communities have also developed many of Australia's elite athletes due to their unique social and physical environment. The importance of sport, particularly in the early days of regional communities, is highlighted by the following quote: "After the general store, the pub and the cemetery, one of the first things established in many a fledgling Australian country town was a sporting facility. Commonly it was a racetrack, sometimes a footy ground or tennis court carved out of someone’s back paddock; if the climate was hot and there was ample water, possibly a pool." [Source - "Good sports: sport - whatever the code, whichever the team - provides a rich backdrop to life in the bush" Burdon A, R.M. Williams Outback (Dec 2009/Jan 2010) 30–44]. ABC's Backroads Television Series broadcast in late 2015 examined six rural and remote towns. Each program highlighted the importance of sport to the town. Some rural communities in recent times have struggled due to drought, industry changes and population movements and this can lead to the merger or loss of sporting teams and a decline in facilities. To ensure that sport remains sustainable, many small Victorian towns have united their AFL and netball teams to make administration more efficient. Others, like Tumut, a NSW country town, introduced rugby league 9's to bring life again to rugby league. On the other hand there are regions that have encountered population growth and this has placed high demands on volunteers and facilities. (From article). Key Messages : 1. Sport in rural, remote and regional communities has been shown to improve social cohesion and health outcomes. 2. Sporting events are increasingly being used to provide an economic stimulus and raising the profiles of rural and regional communities. 3. Historically many high performance athletes have been developed in rural and regional communities and there are a number of programs to assist these athletes. (From article).


Alamy, AXEW29