Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 7 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 2098..
Assembly Clerk: Senior Attendant Andrew Tyrie, currently on secondment to the executive wing, five years' service; Acting Senior Security Attendant, Peter Edwards, our man united talent scout, five years' service; Richard "Rick"Hart, our Facilities Manager, five years; Marilyn Warner and Russell Lutton, Hansard editors, 10 years' service each; Security Controller/Principal Attendant, Rod Campbell, who is also quite a fitness fanatic, has clocked up 15 years, and David Skinner, Director of Governance and Communications, also 15 years' service. Congratulations to all.
DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (6.38): Tonight I am going to talk about Little Athletics Australia. Little athletics is a great avenue for ACT children to keep fit and have fun, and I emphasise the importance of a healthy lifestyle through physical exercise. Little athletics began in Australia in 1967. It precipitated a phenomenal growth of interest in competitive athletics for children—boys and girls under 12 years of age.
I was a little athletics kid. Growing up in country Victoria, I was already into running and jumping at primary school, but the throwing sports of shot-put and discus were unfamiliar. My father inventively solved the problem with practice equipment manufactured by chain-sawing the end off a log. "There is a discus for practice."And the practice shot-put was simply half a brick.
Today there are approximately 100,000 boys and girls aged between five and 16 affiliated with 550 centres nationwide. There are 17 centres in the ACT and surrounding region. In Ginninderra, there are the Belconnen West Little Athletics Club and the Ginninderra Little Athletics Club. The little athletics motto is "Family, Fun and Fitness". Their aim is to provide skills development opportunities for children through track and field as a foundation of all sports.
In April, ACT Little Athletics hosted the 2013 Australian little athletics championships at the AIS track and field facility. It was proudly sponsored by the Community Centenary Initiatives Fund. I attended the opening ceremony. With over 180 junior athletes from across Australia, it was a fantastic day for all those involved.
Little Athletics recognise that children vary widely in shape, size and athletic ability, and track and field caters for all. By gaining enjoyment out of a sport at an early age, it is hoped that a lifelong participation in physical education and a healthy lifestyle are developed and maintained. This is important for several reasons. Childhood obesity is a growing global concern, and physical exercise helps to decrease the effects of childhood and adult obesity. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a quarter of Australian children aged 15 to 17 are overweight or obese—alarming statistics for personal health, both physical and mental, and for economic reasons.
For Little Athletics, enjoyment plays an important role in maintaining a child's interest. They get the chance to be part of a community, socialise with other children locally and nationally and are provided with a goal to work towards each week throughout the little athletics season. Studies show that frequent and regular physical exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and, as I said before, obesity. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression and