From the Chief Executive
In 2019–20, we have witnessed localised and widespread adversity in South Australian communities as a result of the bushfires affecting Kangaroo Island, Cudlee Creek, Yorke Peninsula and the Adelaide Hills followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These events continue to present the South Australian recreation, sporting and racing sectors with significant challenges and opportunities. The Government of South Australia, including this agency, provided more than $21 million in financial supports, rent relief and early access to grant programs to retain or stimulate the recreation, sport and racing sectors through COVID-19.
These challenges have also reminded us of the central role that grassroots sport and active recreation play in South Australians’ lives and communities – it is the glue that holds communities together and that allows us to be resilient in the face of life’s challenges. It was one of the first social restrictions that Australians called for their governments to ease post COVID-19, trusting that community sport could safely lead the return to ‘normal’ activity. I am both humbled and inspired by the importance placed on grassroots sport and recreation by South Australians.
Not all the challenges that we face grab our attention as dramatically as bushfires and pandemics. Some are more insidious, creeping up on us over time. Whilst physical activity levels have been steadily declining across all age groups for some years, now only 8 per cent of Australia’s youth (aged 13-17 years old) meet the daily guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity. The agency’s latest ‘Active Lives’ research, conducted in partnership with Wellbeing SA, suggests that the public health savings to be earned from changing the course of each inactive 18 year old to become an active adult is calculated to be $100,800 across the course of their lifetime. Increasing physical activity in this age cohort will become a significant focus for my team throughout the next year.
During the year, the agency has undertaken a wide-ranging ten-week consultation process with South Australian communities throughout the state to understand and encourage their passion for sport and recreation and the enablers that allow both their participation and their spectatorship. As a result of that consultation, we have set out a series of future outcomes that will positively influence millions of lives by getting South Australia moving, building critical enabling infrastructure and leveraging vital co-investment in the sector.
With these foundations firmly in place, our attention will turn to implementing key projects during the next year; including developing the optimal model for the ‘Club of the Future’, exploring concepts for a new elite athlete training venue, working with the SA Tourism Commission to maximise the event capability of the state’s venues, improving our community engagement capability and implementing our plans through enhanced partnership across government.
The agency has continued to support and facilitate governance reform within the sector to enhance financial sustainability in more competitive markets, member benefits and accountability. A five-year reform package of $24 million has been agreed with the three racing codes to achieve significant governance reforms, strategic initiatives and infrastructure projects.
Athletes and staff from the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) had been primed for their countdown year to the Tokyo Olympics with 15 World Champions being crowned from across the state. The Olympics, Paralympics and their lead-up events were postponed as the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite social lockdown challenges, athlete training has persisted, with coaches and athletes drawing on their creativity, skills, resilience and flexibility to continue building performances. Whilst a return to international competition and selection events in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics remain highly uncertain at present, I encourage all athletes and staff to remain focussed on the goal and continue their preparations for Tokyo (2021) and Paris (2024).
I am proud to extend my congratulations to triple Olympic medal winner and SASI Head Coach Cycling, Brett Aitken, who was inducted into Cycling Australia’s Hall of Fame this year as recognition of his years of hard work and excellence in performance.
I would like to thank all the passionate and dedicated people who work as part of my team. Their rapid adaptability, solutions focus, initiative and strong internal culture allowed the agency to provide uninterrupted services, meet significantly increased demand and support to the sector during the most challenging working conditions in a generation.
Our vision to relentlessly pursue an Active State for all South Australians relies on strong collaboration across many agencies of the government. I commend their willingness, energy and commitment to improving the wellbeing of the residents of our state by working in connected ways and partnering to achieve positive outcomes.
I encourage readers to explore the detail of this annual report and discover the significant outcomes achieved by the agency during the past 12 months.
Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing
 SA Health, Population Health Surveys, Prevention and Population Health Branch (2019). Active Lives, prepared for the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing.
Eckermann Crisp and Willan (2020) Active Lives South Australia Health Economic Analysis – an evidence base for reduced public health costs through physical activity. Office for Recreation Sport and Racing.
 2020 The ‘Game On: getting South Australia moving’ Plan
 2020 The State Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Plan
 2020 Building an Active State: a sport and recreation investment strategy for South Australia.
 $24 million including 1.5 per cent of the previous financial year’s total net state wagering revenue of all betting operators upon which the Betting Operations Tax is payable (approximately $4 million p.a.) during five years.
 Thoroughbred, greyhound and harness racing.