The sport and recreation industry's dynamic five-year plans help deliver successful outcomes for sport and recreation in WA. 

WA’s sport and recreation industry has been guided by three to five-year strategic directions since 1997, providing industry a framework in which to operate and develop. It has also guided State Government decision-making and funding directions and has brought about a range of industry outcomes.

Western Australian Sport and Recreation Industry Strategic Direction 2016-2020 (SD6) is the sixth set of strategic directions, or key challenges, for the sector.

The need for strategic direction

Success is often measured by achieving goals and the sport and recreation industry is no different.

Government has an important leadership role in promoting an active and healthy society. The Department has a key role to play to ensure that the sport and recreation sector in Western Australia remains responsive to the community.

Strategic Directions provides direction and promotes the sport and recreation industry as a vital contributor to the lifestyles of Western Australians, from physical, health and social perspectives, at the individual, community and business level.

SD6 Intent

SD6 has been developed to:

  • Provide vision and direction for Western Australia’s Sport and Recreation Industry
  • Increase stakeholder understanding of emerging issues
  • Guide strategic planning processes for organisations
  • Better inform governments of stakeholder aspirations.


An extensive consultation process was undertaken with people from within the industry and external stakeholders. Consultation methods included:

  • Evaluation of Strategic Directions 5 (SD5) 2011 – 2015 
  • SD6 Discussion Paper and online Delphi Survey
  • Interviews with peak bodies of the industry and key individual stakeholders 
  • Consultation forums at the WA Trails and Outdoors Conference 2015 and the Australia and
  • New Zealand Sports Law Association Conference 2015 
  • Discussions with State Sporting Associations
  • Interviews and roundtable discussions with State government agencies.


The five year period (2016-2020) covered by SD6 will allow analysis of the issues raised in the document and give stakeholder groups opportunities to engage and develop responses. It will be reviewed regularly to monitor progress made towards identified strategic Challenges.

SD6 Framework

Overarching principles

  • Inclusivity
  • Universal access
  • Fair play
  • Sustainability
  • Adaptive delivery
  • Excellence
  • State-wide services delivery
  • Collaborative relationships

Summary of key challenges

To address current and emerging issues in key strategic areas, the sport and recreation industry in Western Australia must tackle the following Challenges over the next five years.

Summary of key challenges

To address current and emerging issues in key strategic areas, the sport and recreation industry in Western Australia must tackle the following Challenges over the next five years.

  1. Governance
  2. The current affordability barrier that is preventing many young people from low socio-economic families participating in sport and recreation must be overcome.

  3. Integrity and Values
  4. Sport and recreation interests must proactively develop responses to safeguard the integrity and wholesome values which make sport and recreation a fundamental part of Australian culture. The integrity that has encouraged participants, partners, sponsors and governments to invest time, effort and resources needs active protection.

  5. Public Open Space and Urban Form
  6. Urban parklands and green spaces for sport and active recreation are integral components of urban infrastructure and make a significant contribution to community health and wellbeing. In order to deliver public open space which meets the needs of communities into the future we must be efficient with resources, focus on the function of sites, provide equitable access to facilities and secure strategically important regional scale spaces.

  7. Adventure and Outdoor Recreation
  8. Western Australia is a destination point for numerous adventure and outdoor recreation pursuits. Stakeholders from the public, private and community sectors must engage collaboratively to deliver high-quality activities, services and facilities to satisfy and sustain the growing demand, while protecting the environments where these activities take place.

  9. Commercialisation
  10. A small number of high profile sports with significant participation bases and integrated competition structures now have robust commercially-oriented business models, while community-based sport and recreation organisations are increasingly reliant on public investment for their survival. Public investment in sport and recreation organisations should factor in the capacity of these organisations to source commercial revenue.

  11. Diversity in Leadership and Management
  12. Initiatives are needed to expedite diversity in Western Australia’s sport and recreation landscape at all levels of leadership and management. Sport and recreation organisations must be proactive to increase the contribution that currently underrepresented groups within the community, particularly women, are able to make to the industry.

  13. Financial [Un]Certainty
  14. The sport and recreation industry must optimise the value derived from public and private funding in tight fiscal circumstances. Sport and recreation stakeholders must be strong advocates for the many benefits that are enabled by continued investment.

  15. Leveraging Facilities Investment
  16. Stakeholders must leverage the investment made in sport and recreation facilities and infrastructure over the past decade. Securing high profile events and increasing visitor and local participation will add vibrancy to our communities and convert these places and spaces into business drivers, delivering extensive economic benefits to Western Australia.

  17. Life Course and Life Stage Participation
  18. The achievement of improved participation rates in sport and recreation, and more broadly active lifestyles, will require innovative responses to the life course and life stage circumstances of Western Australians. A combination of expanding pioneering initiatives and adapting successful concepts from other jurisdictions can stimulate healthier and socially beneficial outcomes for our community.

  19. Monitoring, Evidence and Research
  20. Research and evidence-based decision making are increasingly important for sport and recreation. Availability and utilisation of reputable information will be vital for future policy development and strategic planning.

  21. Participation, Culture and Affordability
  22. Sport and recreation provides opportunities to embrace those otherwise often excluded in the community. Opportunities should be affordable and provide equitable access to encourage participation of people from diverse social, cultural and economic backgrounds.

  23. Technology
  24. Western Australia’s sport and recreation landscape must embrace opportunities to progress the industry through new and emerging technologies. Astute sourcing of technological innovations that enhance core values, support participation and performance outcomes and promote organisational sustainability will be crucial.

  25. Vital Volunteers
  26. The engagement of volunteers in sport and recreation is vital for the industry to thrive and deliver personal and social benefits. Sport and recreation organisations must devise responsive and accommodating approaches to recruit, support and retain the vital volunteer base which facilitates the delivery of sport and recreation activities.

Activating SD6

SD6 is a forward-looking and dynamic framework and relevant issues will continue to evolve
over its lifetime.

Meeting these Challenges will require a collaborative effort by all stakeholders. Time and energy must be committed to tackle these Challenges.

Activating SD6 over the next five years will involve:

  • The sport and recreation industry being an advocate for the Challenges and taking collective action to influence government policies, action and investment;
  • The Department of Sport and Recreation leading and facilitating the activation of SD6, including:
    • Convening stakeholder groups to engage with the Challenges;
    • Developing appropriate performance indicators to measure success in tackling the Challenges;
    • Assisting organisations to meet the Challenges;
    • Communicating to the industry, governments and the broader community the progress towards
      meeting the Challenges; and
    • Reviewing the Framework and the Challenges.
  • Each region in Western Australia interpreting, prioritising and responding to the Challenges;
  • Each industry sector and organisation using the Challenges to guide their own strategic planning and direction; and
  • Every participant, coach, official, volunteer, parent and administrator contributing at a grassroots level to progress the vision of SD6. 

Evolution of Strategic Directions Process

Since the inception of the Strategic Directions process in 1997, a number of significant industry outcomes have been achieved. The diagram below summarises some of these outcomes and depicts the evolution of the industry over this timeframe.

Strategic Directions 1997–1999

  • Development of the Premier’s Physical Activity Taskforce.
  • Adoption of contemporary business management practices by sport and recreation service providers.
  • Recognition of the industry’s contribution to society in terms of broader community wellbeing.
  • Joint provision and shared use of facilities.

Strategic Directions 2 1999–2002

  • Addressing the declining levels of participation in physical activity.
  • Improved strategic planning in sport and recreation organisations.
  • Development of the State Sporting Facilities Plan Future Success, a strategic plan for high performance sport in WA.

Strategic Directions 3 2003–2005

  • Improved advocacy of the value of sport and recreation.
  • Increased inclusiveness.
  • Improved volunteer and club management, particularly through effective partnerships between local
  • government and community organisations.
  • Development of risk management practices and solutions to public liability issues.
  • Industry responses to sustainability.

Strategic Directions 4 2006–2010

  • Development of strategic partnerships to consolidate industry status in areas such as water planning, Statewide facility planning and regional development.
  • Enhanced local service delivery through the establishment of Club Development Officer positions in local government.
  • Adoption of an inclusive approach to sport and recreation delivery and capacity building.
  • Broadening of funding programs in regional areas.

Strategic Directions 5 2011–2015

  • Launch of Sport 4 All, including KidSport, Community Volunteer Program, ClubTalk and Nature Play WA
  • Collaboration to deliver reform in water and planning policy and strategy
  • Unprecedented investment into building elite and community facilities
  • Strong focus on building the capacity of State Sporting Associations and affiliated clubs 
  • Partnerships to tackle sport integrity issues
Page reviewed 31 January 2020