From the Chief Executive
Even as I write this, many Australian states and several parts of the world are in the grip of second or third waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, with new variants much fiercer than anything we experienced in the past year. It is a health crisis of the kind we have not seen in generations.
During the past year, amidst travel restrictions and lockdowns instituted by various governments across the world, we ensured the safety and wellbeing of all our employees and athletes. On the business front, we have adapted quickly and made a seamless transition for employees to work from home whilst enabling us to continue supporting the South Australian community in our mission.
We have guided the sport and recreation industry through challenging periods during the course of the pandemic. Through workshops, virtual conferences and sharing information on our digital channels, we have helped our stakeholders understand ever-changing restrictions and highlighted the importance of being able to pivot during these uncertain times.
The data tells us that the impact of COVID-19 has been mixed for the Australian community. Thirty-two per cent of people reported that their physical health had changed (12 per cent for the better and 20 per cent for the worse) since COVID restrictions. Adults, mostly adult women, became more physically active, more often on purpose. Children significantly decreased their participation in organised sport, largely due to the restrictions placed on community gatherings. Only 53 per cent of people who had volunteered before COVID-19 had returned to volunteering. Sport and recreational activities that enabled social distancing, like golf and tennis, recorded significant increases. This will present challenges and opportunities for the sector and South Australians across the coming year.
Amidst all of this, our high-performance athletes have adapted to training schedules and competition cycles heavily impacted by pandemic restrictions. They have endured the mental and physical pressures of a highly compressed pinnacle event calendar for a postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics that may never have happened. Despite all the uncertainty, the Olympics was a major success and uplifted the spirits of Australians in sore need of their inspirational performances. South Australian athletes returned with 11 medals (two gold, three silver and six bronze), contributing to 24 per cent of the nation’s medal tally. As I write, we are days away from being stirred anew by our Paralympians!
I would like to extend my gratitude to my management team, staff and sector leaders for their adaptability and contributions to the sector amidst this challenging operating environment.
Although the pandemic has challenged us all, it has reinforced the need for strong resilient communities supporting connections to others. During this period, the Agency launched a blueprint to create an active state, connected communities and inspired performances through our Strategic Plan 2021-25. Key projects identified within that Plan have been the focus of our work during the past 12 months.
Significantly, we announced a $49 million addition in the form of the state’s first purpose-built, state-of-the-art high-performance hub to enable the continuing development of our future sporting superstars. This will deliver elite training facilities that provide world-class athlete training experiences.
A further investment of $184 million was put into places and spaces identified within our State Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Plan 2020-40 that encourage and support movement, play and performance. Major upgrades for national-level tennis facilities, state-level AFL-football, athletics, cycling, football (soccer), netball and basketball facilities and various regional-level facilities were allocated during this period and projects are underway. This includes upgrades to Hindmarsh Stadium, a key factor in securing games for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The return on investment from our support for grassroots sport has also increased as a result of the Building an Active State: a sport and recreation investment strategy for South Australia, the decennial review of the Agency’s Grant Program. The review introduced the Partnerships Program, a new co-investment Program to drive the achievement of Game On: Getting South Australia Moving outcomes. This new Program harnesses the skills, expertise and co-investment of organisations delivering Game On outcomes at scale across our state. We look forward to spreading the benefits of government investment in grassroots participation.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge that much of what we have achieved during the past year only happened through a steadfast commitment to partnerships with other government agencies, local government and the community sector. By sharing information and working together we have achieved more collectively than we ever could on our own. I am indebted to leaders, their staff, communities and individuals, for their passion and dedication to creating a more active South Australia.
I encourage readers to explore the detail of this Annual Report and discover the significant outcomes achieved by the Agency and our partners during the past 12 months.
Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing
 AusPlay - Participation Data for Sports Sector 2020, Australian Sports Commission + Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, Jan & Jun 2021 Australian Bureau of Statistics
 Memorial Drive Stage 2
 Thebarton Oval
 SA Athletics Stadium
 State Football Centre, Hindmarsh Stadium + Women’s Memorial Playing Fields
 Priceline Stadium
 Wayville Home of Basketball