Sport Australia Board Appointments

The Minister for Sport, Bridget McKenzie, has announced the appointment of four new commissioners to the Sport Australia Board.

“It is fantastic to announce that Kurt Fearnley AO, Amanda Laing, Andrew Ireland and Pippa Downes will join the Sport Australia Board for a three-year term,” Minister McKenzie said.

“In addition, Stephen Moneghetti AM has been promoted to the position of Deputy Chair and Jenn Morris OAM has been reappointed to serve on the Board for another three years.

“The appointments will strengthen the commercial capability of the organisation and have been made at an exciting time for Australian sport as Sport Australia plays a lead role in the delivery of the Government’s Sport 2030—National Sport Plan. “Sport 2030 is a cohesive, long-term strategy for Australian sport with a clear focus on participation, performance, improved physical and mental health and maintaining the integrity of our sports. “The commissioners will strengthen the implementation of Sport 2030 given the wide-ranging skills and extensive experience they bring to the table.”

Mr Fearnley’s incredible athletics career for Australia spanned five Paralympic Games campaigns, culminating with his wheelchair marathon victory at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where he was also chosen to be the Australian flag-bearer for the closing ceremony. Adding to his powerful athletics performances, Mr Fearnley has become an icon and advocate for people with disabilities in sport and the broader community, recently awarded NSW Australian of the Year. A former physical education teacher, Mr Fearnley also sits on several panels and councils, including the International and Australian Paralympic Committees.

Ms Laing has two decades of experience in senior executive roles with leading media and entertainment companies Nine Entertainment Co and Foxtel. Ms Laing is currently Chief Commercial Officer at Foxtel, with extensive experience across Australia’s free-to-air, broadcast, print, digital and streaming landscape. Ms Laing was also appointed to the Australian Rugby League Commission last year.

Mr Ireland was a VFL footballer with Collingwood in the 1970s, but his early playing retirement led to a successful career in sports administration and management. Mr Ireland was Chief Executive Officer at AFL club the Brisbane Bears/Lions from 1990-2001, before moving to the Sydney Swans, where he held the role of CEO from 2009 until his retirement last year. Ireland is a Life Member of the AFL and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ms Downes is a respected executive and non-Executive Director with more than 25 years of distinguished career achievements in the international business and finance sector. Ms Downes is currently a Non-Executive Director of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority and spent eight years as a Non-Executive Director of the Pinnacle Foundation, an educational foundation for disadvantaged youth. Previously she was a Non-Executive Director of Swimming Australia (2009-2012) and the Swimming Australia Foundation (2009-2011).

Chair of Sport Australia John Wylie welcomed the new appointments, saying that they will bring fresh ideas and approach that will further improve sporting outcomes.

“These four new appointees are highly accomplished and respected Australians across a range of fields and we are fortunate that progressing Australian sport is a passion they all share. I have every confidence their valuable perspectives and experience will benefit the Sport Australia Board and, in turn, Australian sport.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank Kate Bates, a wonderful Olympian and world champion cyclist who is taking up a Board position with Cycling Australia and will step down from her role on the the Sport Australia Board. Kate served on the Sport Australia Board for three years, including on the Finance Audit and Risk Committee.”

Minister McKenzie said: “On behalf of the Australian Government, I thank Kate for the energy and expertise she brought to the Sport Australia Board and her service to Australian sport and look forward to her involvement in Cycling Australia.

“The Liberal Nationals Government is helping to build an active Australia with an additional $230 million announced in the 2018–19 Budget.

“The Government is committed to supporting sport in Australia from grassroots to elite and increasing participation in physical and recreational activities to promote physical and mental health for all Australians.”

Sport Australia (Australian Sports Commission) was established in 1985 and operates under the Australian Sports Commission Act 1989. It is governed by a Board of commissioners appointed by the Australian Government.

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