South East children identified in $45million SA Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Plan

MAJOR: State Strategic Plan outlines bold new vision for sport and recreation to include South East. Archive photo: Rachel Mahney
MAJOR: State Strategic Plan outlines bold new vision for sport and recreation to include South East. Archive photo: Rachel Mahney

Children and young people living in the South East will fall under a bold new statewide direction designed to increase physical activity among all South Australians across the next five years.

According to the state government, the Recreation, Sport and Infrastructure Strategic Plan outlines a clear ambition to increase activity levels of South Australians and also improve the performances of regional elite athletes.

A key priority of the policy is addressing the dire levels of physical activity reported among the state's young people.

It comes as data reveals that only 26 per cent of SA children (0-12 years old) and 14 per cent of youth (13-17 years old) meet the National Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes of exercise per day.

In response, SA government will invest $45 million via infrastructure grant programs, targeting grassroots organisations and regional and district hubs.

Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing (ORSR) CE Kylie Taylor, who named South East in the plan, said it seeks to stimulate more activity under the 'Active Lives' priority.

"Under the new Strategic Plan, strategic partnerships will also be implemented for the South East and the rest of SA, and there will be a focus on fostering partnerships that improve health and wellbeing," Ms Taylor told Naracoorte Herald.

She outlined how the ORSR and the Limestone Coast Local Government Association currently work together to employ a STARCLUB field officer to work on the ground to support the creation of partnerships, connecting councils and sport and recreation organisations to help achieve targets.

Under the new Strategic Plan, strategic partnerships will also be implemented for the South East and the rest of SA, and there will be a focus on fostering partnerships that improve health and wellbeing.

Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing CE Kylie Taylor

Furthermore, ORSR will also investin the Limestone Coast Regional Sports Academy, providing aspiring, sub-elite, young athletes the chance to access elite training and development programs in their own region.

"We understand and appreciate how important sport and recreation is in our regional areas and acknowledge that many of our elite athletes start their journey in regional South Australia," Ms Taylor added.

Recreation, Sport and Racing Minister Corey Wingard said increased lifestyle pressures, evolving social norms and the rise of technology has changed the landscape for sport and recreation enormously.

"There is an urgent need to shift the dial on activity levels and make physical activity an unquestionable daily habit, in order to reduce pressure on the public health system going forward," the minister said.

Importantly, more than $390 million to support the delivery of sporting infrastructure works and programs has been committed.

The minister also highlighted that 'Sporting Excellence' had been identified as a key priority in the Strategic Plan, given the significant impact COVID-19 has had on elite athletes over the course of the pandemic.

"Keeping our elite athletes in peak condition physically and mentally for the postponed Tokyo Games and beyond has been a mammoth task given the challenges we've all had to endure over the past 12 months," he said.

"To remain competitive both nationally and internationally, we are exploring options for a brand new world-class High-Performance Sports Hub."

The plan's aim is to also have South Australian-based athletes comprise 10 per cent of Australian teams and achieve 10 per cent of Australian medals at Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games.

The ORSR now encourages regional councils to register any projects they identify as priorities to ensure they can be considered through future planning and funding processes.

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This story Active plan nurtures young athletes first appeared on Naracoorte Herald.