Australian Athletics "has received a slap down from the Australian Sports Commission, in its report card on sports that receive annual government funding, for its failure to have a merger between senior and junior bodies," according to Rupert Guinness of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The two main bodies -- Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia -- "worked with the commission last year to try and formulate a merger." When it came to voting on the proposal in December, AA "endorsed it unanimously, but it was voted against by LAA -- a self-funding independent body." Commission Chair John Wylie said that a merger "would have many gains for the sport," from improved commercial sponsorship and development pathways for athletes, to "cross fertilisation" of officials and coaches. Wylie: "The world is moving on and athletics needs to get on the wagon, needs to get on the program in our view" (SMH, 4/3). In Melbourne, Samantha Lane reported ASC has put AA and Cycling Australia "on notice, saying both organisations are lagging behind the five other top taxpayer funded sports in the country." While Wylie "heaped praise on a reformed Swimming Australia and Hockey Australia, and said rowing, sailing and basketball had all made 'good progress'" since new mandatory governance principals were outlined in the Winning Edge manifesto 15 months ago, he "did not hide the commission's disappointment in operational failings of the two other major sports" that receive more than A$5M ($4.6M) annually from government grants (THE AGE, 4/4). Lane also reported one of the ASC's "most richly funded sports has met a soon-to-be-mandatory 40 per cent female board member ratio." While Hockey Australia "is the lone shining example," the national governing bodies for athletics, swimming, cycling, rowing and sailing -- and the worst placed of the country’s most richly taxpayer-funded sports associations, Basketball Australia -- "are under pressure to reform within a year or risk having their funding docked." Of the seven sporting associations that receive more than $5M annually in grants from the commission, only Hockey Australia "has met the target for women on its board." The gender breakdown of Hockey Australia’s board is now 55% female and 45% male. Basketball Australia’s recently replenished six-member board, meanwhile, has one female member, Cheryl Hayman. Swimming Australia, under new leadership, is "faring marginally better than basketball in terms of board diversity after adding a second female director to its hierarchy since the launch of Winning Edge" (THE AGE, 4/3).
IN THE POOL: In Sydney, Nicole Jeffery reported swimming "is back in favour" of the ASC. Wylie "singled out swimming for praise." Wylie: "I commend the united approach taken by sports to embrace reform, no better exemplified than by Swimming Australia, which has, through its renewed leadership, implemented significant constitutional change and an improved team culture." AIS Dir Matt Favier, the sport's architect, said that the general findings "were encouraging." Favier: "We have seen progress and improvement across the system" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/4).