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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 August 2010) . . Page.. 3816 ..

towards a common goal are valued workforce traits. Equally, sport teaches our youth many things that cannot be as easily learnt anywhere else.

Many of you here in the Assembly are parents and can appreciate the fact that you can teach your children perseverance, to look in the face of adversity, to fight the good fight and to never give up. That said, anyone can say that they are going to see something through. But until they actually do it, it is just talk. Sports give children a chance to express themselves, to test themselves to their limits and to achieve their goals. Junior sports are opportunities to engage our youth in physical activity that provides the foundation for healthy lifestyles as adults.

A case in point is a study report in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that children involved in youth sports were 40 per cent less likely to be cigarette smokers, with the likelihood of picking up the smoking habit further decreasing if a child played more than one sport. Simply put, sport teaches our youth the value of teamwork and people skills, discipline and responsibility, a sense of accomplishment and focus, and how to make good choices—for example, eating properly, taking care of their health and giving respect. Equally, members of the community who support junior sports serve as positive role models. We need to acknowledge the asset we have as a community in the fact that the largest segment of volunteers in Canberra—approximately 23.6 per cent—are in sport-related activities.

Yet, to quote ACTSport, the ACT government’s current system for providing sport and recreation services needs to be reshaped. Mr Barr, it needs to be reshaped. And greater investment is necessary to meet the new and emerging challenges of the local environment that have already been touched upon by Mr Seselja and Mr Rattenbury. The challenges include maintaining and increasing levels of participation in organised community activities; decreased volunteerism; the cost of compliance; the cost of participation; ageing infrastructure; the availability of local facilities; and changing demographics.

Over the last several years, there has been an emphasis by the government on elite sports. This is not an either/or proposition, as both elite and community sports play an important role together. However, I feel it is time to consider how we can improve on community sports in the ACT. It was telling to note the minister’s unpreparedness with regard to community sports during estimates, as clubs representing a total of 95,000 Canberrans voiced their dissatisfaction with what was available. Their message was simple: community sports facilities are running at capacity and driving up participation costs.

It is also quite instructive to note that since 2002, 41 community fields have been taken offline and have not yet been fully brought back. We also learned that 2002 was the last year the government conducted any reviews on its triennial funding programs. Today’s motion highlights the importance of junior sports in the ACT. In this context, sports and education are inextricably linked. As Mr Barr has touched upon, with our respective portfolios in education and sports, Minister Barr and I are well placed to take advantage of this fact. We could also bring disability into that category—the importance of including more emphasis for children with special needs in these categories.

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