National Sporting Organisations will be able to measure and continually enhance their approach to athlete and staff wellbeing thanks to a new tool being launched by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
For the first time in Australian sport, the AIS Wellbeing Health Check provides a standardised resource to assess the wellbeing cultures of national high performance sport programs, including how well athletes and staff feel supported mentally, physically and emotionally.
AIS CEO Peter Conde said the AIS Wellbeing Health Check, which has been successfully piloted over the past 12 months in several sports, was another important step in prioritising wellbeing in Australian high performance sport.
“The wellbeing of all our people in Australian sport is vital and it also goes hand-in-hand with peak performance,” Conde said. “Australia’s high performance sporting system has a collective goal to build sustainable success, and so we need the right support networks and cultures in place for athletes and staff to realise their potential and thrive, in and out of competition.”
The AIS Wellbeing Health Check takes a 360-degree view of wellbeing in high performance sport programs. All athletes, coaches and staff will receive a confidential survey, while National Sporting Organisations will also complete a self-assessment report. There are six key themes: mental health; cultural values; injury prevention and management; selection and non-selection; conduct and behavioural standards; equality and inclusion.
National Sporting Organisations funded by the AIS will complete the Wellbeing Health Check twice every four-year Games cycle. While the program will commence for some sports this month, most will take place after the Tokyo Games.
“Participating in this survey is really important,” Conde said. “To continually improve wellbeing in high performance sport programs, we need athletes, coaches and staff to be able to share their insights and experiences in a confidential and independent way. Individual responses will be protected, overall results will only be shared with sports in summary form.
“We want this to be a positive process to help sports and athletes, so the AIS will offer our support if potential gaps are identified. Equally, we will be able to identify areas where sports are performing well. We can celebrate that too and use that information to inform develop wellbeing services and strategies across Australian sport.
“We need to work together to improve wellbeing services to all high performance programs – large or small. I believe all sports have a genuine commitment to wellbeing, but this gives us the opportunity to measure, track and continually improve.”
Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said the Australian Government was determined to ensure the health and wellbeing of our sports men and women remains a priority.
“Our athletes face enormous physical pressures in their individual campaigns to reach their goals,” Minister Colbeck said. “But now we know the impact this can also have on their mental health.
“The AIS Wellbeing Health Check is an important initiative that will help ensure our elite sports stars are encouraged and supported at every stage of their journey.”
The AIS Wellbeing Health Check is informed by a 2019 sport-wide review commissioned by the AIS which looked into the wellbeing needs of athletes and sport. It is one of a number of initiatives launched by the AIS People Development and Leadership team, including:
– The AIS Mental Health Referral Network, now available for free and confidential support to more than 3,000 athletes, coaches and staff across Australian high performance sport.
– Funding a national network of more than 30 Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement managers in sports;
– An AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Advisory Committee established in 2019, Chaired by Ian Thorpe and including the likes of Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry.
– The establishment of an AIS Athlete Advisory Committee in 2019, which ensures athletes have a voice in shaping the future of high performance sport in Australia.