As the opposition spokesperson for sport, recreation and racing, I wish to use my time today to raise awareness about the importance of sport and sporting organisations in our community. Last night I was pleased to attend the Sport SA general meeting; and I thank Sport SA’s CEO Jan Sutherland for the invitation. Sport SA strives to ensure that the needs and aspirations of the South Australian sporting community are considered by all levels of government and to develop a stronger future for sport for all South Australians.
The organisation has a large membership, ranging from Athletics SA to Yachting SA and almost everything in between. I learnt about the strategic direction of Sport SA, which includes: to lead and assist in the promotion of best practice in sports management; to maintain and increase the profile of sport in South Australia; to take a leadership role in the provision of facilities in South Australia; to provide a sustainable financial basis for sport here; provide quality training opportunities for the sports industry; and be recognised as the leader in representing sports volunteers in our state.
It was an honour to meet with a number of industry stakeholders last night. I am encouraged by the fact that South Australian sporting organisations are in good hands and that Sport SA has their interests at heart. Sport SA’s values, which include teamwork, professionalism, commitment and a healthy lifestyle, are the ideal values for any organisation to have. Many of the values I hold dear and were learnt in my early years of being involved in team sport. Teamwork, acceptance of others and persistence were some of the things taught to me by coaches and teachers; and this is why I am a big supporter of sport. Also, I have had the opportunity to meet recently with a number of other sporting organisations, and I am encouraged by the fact that participation in sport is growing and that these organisations are doing their best to help their communities and, in particular, being really well administered.
One of the most positive things is that members of sporting clubs I have met realise that to encourage as many children as possible to participate in sport greatly benefits the community. These clubs realise that, essentially, they have a duty to promote fitness and activity in their local area. The effects of childhood obesity and the obesity epidemic, in general, are felt throughout our community. Obesity is a ticking timebomb of chronic diseases. It puts people at risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke and even certain forms of cancer.
The health consequences of obesity are serious—deadly serious. Beyond the obvious health effects, overweight and obese people often struggle with feelings of guilt, depression and negative body image. Recent research has pointed out that about 25 per cent of young people in Australia are obese and that probably 80 per cent of these young people will become obese adults. Since the 1980s, the amount of overweight and obese Australian children has more than doubled. Our gradual change in lifestyle, where people are eating more sugary and fatty foods while becoming deskbound and less active, is seriously affecting our waistlines. I know that since becoming a politician my free time has decreased, but functions and meetings (including meals) have certainly increased; and I ask all my colleagues to make sure that they get enough exercise to counter the effects of our lifestyle.
We should all try our best to eat well and be active. Our sporting bodies and teams do a terrific job in making us all aware that activity and sport can have great benefits for our health. I encourage this government to do all it can to assist South Australian sporting organisations, both financially and in promoting the fact that they play a vital role in making our community healthier. To conclude my remarks, I reiterate that the value of sport to young people and, indeed, everyone in our community, cannot be undersold. We face a massive challenge, as leaders in the community, to ensure that we each do our very best to make South Australia an active and healthy state.