Members might be aware of recent media reports of proposed changes to club community contributions. The proposal seems to aim to redistribute funds away from sporting clubs and community groups (including the ones the RUC currently supports), to a centrally administered fund. The underlying principal for the change is the belief that community contributions should be distributed more “evenly” as “money collected through the scheme belongs to the broader community”.
That was never the intent of the scheme – that is enshrined in the legislative requirement that contributions should be in pursuance of club objectives. This is consistent with the principle that the members who are generating this revenue should be able to determine, within the law, where their money goes.
All forms of government direct funds towards priorities of the day – that is a given – but this is usually done in the form of taxation. In terms of the ACT, it was never the intention that poker machine contributions from clubs should be used to deal with wider community issues – that would seem to be a taxation function. If there is a wider community issue, such as gambling, that can be linked to the operation of clubs (and others, e.g. casinos, TAB, online gaming etc.), then perhaps that should be dealt with by the government using poker machine taxation funds.
Sport makes up a significant proportion of these community contributions. Australia is now a country where more than 80 per cent of Australian children are not meeting the recommended activity guidelines, nearly two-thirds of Canberra’s adults and a quarter of children are overweight, or obese, and more than half of adults are living sedentary or low activity lifestyles.
The study by Medibank Private into The Cost of Physical Inactivity, which looked at the impact of inactivity on a range of diseases, concluded that increased participation in sport could generate gross savings of $1.49 billion per year.
The Boston Consulting Group’s 2017 Intergenerational Review of Australian Sport shows that for every dollar spent on sport in Australia, there are net benefits of $7 in total – a sevenfold return. Contributions toward sport are exactly what our community needs.
In 2015 La Trobe University, Centre for Sport and Social Impact reported on the ‘Value of a Community Football Club’ and concluded that “For every $1 spent on a community football club, there is at least $4.40 return in social value”. The study also found significant social, health, community and economic outcomes from investment in football clubs. Just a few of these outcomes include: “increased social connectedness, wellbeing, mental health status, employment outcomes, personal development, physical health, civic pride and support of other community groups.”
Sport is one of the keys to getting people moving and keeping them healthy longer. Sport brings people together and teaches important life skills. Being able to compete with the best on the world stage plays a vital role in Australia’s international reputation and our own view of ourselves.
Investing in sport is good for our children, ourselves, our community and our economy. Without community contributions to sport, some of the sport in which Canberrans currently participate would be under threat.
The total amount of community contributions support provided by the RUC will necessarily fall by the proportion of money that the club will have to contribute to the centrally administered fund. It will not be affordable for the RUC to maintain support to all these groups and to the centrally administered fund.
The Canberra North Bowling and ACT Rugby Union Club (Trading as the RUC) brought together two of Canberra’s oldest and smallest clubs in 2014. It was established to “foster and encourage interest and participation in sport in the ACT, particularly the game of Lawn Bowls and the Rugby Union Football Code; and promote social intercourse amongst the members and guests of the Association.”
It is a direction that has seen lawn bowls, both competitive and social, flourish in the last two years, and is also an approach that sees more than 15 community sporting clubs now call The RUC home. It has taken considerable effort to build the CNBACTRUC and it is a club in the real sense – with volunteers, paid workers, and associated community groups all united under common objects.
The RUC is not averse to improving community contributions and the Auditor General’s report has some reasonable suggestions. But to remove funding from small, community-based organisations in favour of a larger centrally administered fund, would be to deny support to some of the most vulnerable community groups associated with the RUC.
Where that support is not available, the consequences are obvious with eight licensed clubs closed in recent times and bowling venues disappearing in Canberra- with consequential health and social impact.
The RUC is a focus for social inclusion, community support, and is a base for sporting organisations operating on the smell of an oily rag. These organisations support the RUC and we support them. They are all relationships that have taken time to build, and they are relationships that we look forward to continuing for many years to come.
How to Have Your Say:
or contact your local MLA
Secretary Manager, CNBACTRUC