Australia has successfully delivered sport for development programs since 2009 through its $49 million Australian Sports Outreach Program (ASOP).
Sport is a globally recognised - and increasingly utilised - vehicle to achieve development outcomes in areas such as health, social cohesion, gender equality and disability inclusion. The Australian Government strongly supports these outcomes through its targeted sport for development programs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sport is a uniquely effective agent of change because:
- Participation in quality physical activity significantly reduces the risk of developing Non Communicable Disease (NCDs). NCDs such as diabetes have been identified as an urgent health and economic risk across Pacific Island countries, which feature in the world’s top ten countries with the highest rates of obesity (World Bank 2015).
- Sport provides governments and public health organisations a mass audience platform to deliver high-impact messaging on other health issues (e.g. HIV/AIDS, tobacco and alcohol).
- Sport fosters social cohesion through engaging with communities experiencing conflict, and by providing opportunities for disengaged groups within society such as youths.
- Sport supports equality of women and girls through showcasing achievement and challenging gender norms.
- Sport provides safe and supportive community spaces for women and minority groups in developing countries who are at an increased risk of experiencing violence.
- Sport helps improve the quality of life for people with disability by fostering inclusion and social interaction. This inclusion challenges negative community attitudes and self-perceptions of people with disability.
In 2015-16 Australia is expanding sport for development partnerships into Asia, building upon the successes of its Pacific programs. Australian sports programs are currently undertaken or planned in:
- Cook Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Sri Lanka