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Published 12 April 2024

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governance in sport

On Thursday 1 February at The Grange Golf Club, Sport SA hosted Hon Katrine Hildyard, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, along with representatives from 20 South Australian sporting organisations and the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, to celebrate the first year of Sport SA’s Governance Reform Project.

Launching in January 2023 with the objective to raise the governance maturity levels of sporting organisations in South Australia, 10 organisations were accepted into the program last year, including; Basketball SA, Diving SA, Netball SA, Paddle SA, Rifle Association SA, Royal Life Saving SA, Rugby SA, Swimming SA, Tenpin SA and Water Polo SA.

The Governance Reform Project represents one of four key strategic deliverables identified in the Election Commitment funding announced by the State Government in early 2022, for Sport SA to deliver over the term of the government. Sport SA acknowledges the Office for Recreation Sport and Racing as the funding partner for this project.

Minister Hildyard commented; “State Sporting Organisations support clubs who bring sport to life across our state.

Good governance principles and practices, underpinned by strong values, establish crucial foundations from which sport can successfully operate and play the vital role that it does in communities.

State Sporting Organisations playing the role they do means we have the best chance of helping ensure South Australians have the opportunity to be included in sport, to follow in the footsteps of our sporting legends, to simply find joy in being part of a club, engaged in being physically active, or volunteering to make sport happen.

That is why our State Government has funded Sport SA to deliver this important Governance Reform program. It is great to see many of South Australia’s leading organisations participating.”

Adopting an SSO led approach, Sport SA worked with Boards and CEOs to develop a Governance Action Plan that was informed by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Sport Governance Standard Benchmarking Report. Sport SA supported the State Sporting Organisations (SSO’s) to prioritise key areas of their governance to enhance, with funding provided to each SSO to allow for extra resourcing or professional advice, to deliver on the goals within their Action Plan.

In addition to this and in partnership with the Leaders Institute of SA, Sport SA curated a Professional Development Plan for the participating SSO’s. Governance Masterclasses and Adaptive Leadership seminars formed the basis of this development plan, with the aim of providing practical tools that SSO Executives and Boards could use to progress their governance maturity.

Netball SA CEO, Bronwyn Klei said, “My staff and I have really benefited from the professional development opportunities offered within the Sport SA Governance Reform Program. Increasing the capability of our leaders is good for governance and makes us a stronger organisation”.

The program involved a number of other partners, that provided services to each SSO, including: ActiveXchange, Gilchrist Connell, Helix Group, Tidy HQ and Risk Management Essentials. “Sport SA is grateful for the support of our delivery partners, whose products and services have provided the participating SSO’s with resources that allow for more efficient and effective governance.” Said Sport SA CEO Leah Cassidy. Adding that, “We hope from here that these 10 SSO’s can continue to evolve their Governance Action Plans and that they are now better equipped to continue to progress the governance maturity of their respective organisations.”

Carl Jones, CEO of Rugby SA said, “Governance is something we traditionally address once a year, or in crisis. This program has allowed us the time to delve into governance and compare ourselves to best practice across the sector.

A further 10 South Australian sporting organisations have been selected to participate in the 2024 program, including; Baseball SA, Diamond Sports Incorporated, Equestrian SA, Golf Australia (SA), Hockey SA, Ice Hockey SA, Rowing SA, Softball SA, Triathlon SA and Volleyball SA. “We are really excited to be part of the Governance Reform Project in 2024 and it was great to discuss the program last night with the 2023 SSO’s who participated.”  Said Karla Della Pietra, CEO of Volleyball SA. Adding that, “Our governance is by no means broken, but if we can improve how we run the sport our, it will be our members who receive the benefits.”