Gender-neutral travel allowance policies a must for sporting bodies wanting funding, Government says.


By political reporter Naomi Woodley.

Major sporting organisations will be expected to provide the same overseas travel standards for their male and female athletes if they want to continue to receive millions of dollars in government funding.

Federal Sports Minister and the Chair of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), John Wylie, have written to the 30 top funded organisations setting out their expectations for change.

“In 2016, we can think of no defensible reason why male and female athletes should travel in different classes or stay in different standard accommodation when attending major international sporting events,” the letter reads.

“The ASC is now proposing to make gender-neutral travel policies for senior major championships a condition of investment by the ASC in a sport.”

The ASC is providing a total of $134 million in funding to different sporting organisations this financial year.

The Minister said she was not intending to “name and shame” poor-performing organisations, but she was confident public pressure would bring about change.

“Quite frankly I was shocked and surprised to find that in every sport it isn’t always the case that the guys and the girls fly and are accommodated at the same level of travel,” Ms Ley said.

“I am prepared to tie the funding to compliance with this but I don’t expect it to come to an argument — I know it won’t, in fact.”

Plan follows Opals flights furore

In 2012, Basketball Australia (BA) was heavily criticised when it was revealed the more successful female team, the Opals, travelled in economy class to the London Olympics, while the men’s team, the Boomers, flew business.


“The publicity was negative for a reason: it doesn’t stand up,” BA CEO, Anthony Moore, told AM.

The Opals now travel in business class to international events like the Olympics and the World Championship, but also overseas friendly matches.

“It was a pretty easy one to rectify,” Mr Moore said.

“We get a significant amount of tax payers’ money, via the Australian Sports Commission, for our high-performance program.

“So I think the average man and woman in the street would believe that we would apply those funds equally when it comes to matters such as travel.”

The Minister said sporting organisations had responded positively to her request to increase the representation of women on their boards.

Ms Ley said she considered the issue of international travel as a starting point, and she would also hope to see progress in domestic sporting leagues, and for elite sporting mothers to get more support.

“If you are competing at that level and your child needs to travel with you, of course arrangements I’m sure would be made. That is common sense,” she said.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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