Why we need to kick goals for Coast sport
QUEENSLANDERS love sport, but cost of living pressures have often put playing sport or participating in recreational activities out of the reach of many.
That's why the Queensland Government promised at the last election to get more kids outside and active through the flagship Get in the Game program.
This initiative has several elements including providing vouchers to children who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
Whether it be nippers, one of the football codes, netball, hockey, basketball after school or another sport, playing the game and covering the cost of registration fees and equipment is now aeasier. This eases hip pocket pain.
Of course we all know that obesity is at epidemic levels in Australia, and Queensland is no exception.
As the leading preventable cause of premature death in the state, obesity is Queensland's biggest killer, leading to shorter life expectancy, diminished quality of life, and an ever-expanding cost to the health system and the economy.
One of the quickest ways to slow, then reverse, this trend is through exercise.
Through Get in the Game we are investing in healthy, active futures for kids on the Sunshine Coast and giving Queensland children a path to better health and fitness.
Queenslanders have embraced Get in the Game in unprecedented numbers, and in response I have tripled funding over three years from $16 million to $47.8 million to support grassroots sport and recreation across Queensland.
Under the program, almost 60,000 vouchers have been made available to help Queensland families with sport and recreation membership costs.
On the Sunshine Coast alone we have issued more than 5500 vouchers for use at more than 260 clubs.
Better still, 33% of recipients have never been a member of a sports club before. But the best bit is the feedback we're getting from parents and clubs right across the Coast. Parents can let their son or daughter play the game they love despite hard financial times, and are not faced with the prospect of letting one child play while another misses out. Coaches are finding themselves with fresh new faces in their teams as more families can afford to participate. The real winners are the kids out on the paddocks with their mates, developing healthy lifestyles.
The latest ABS figures show we are keeping young people in sport - with Queensland ahead of other states for boys in the traditional drop-out ages of 15-17. We're working hard to get more women and girls in sport, which is why I established the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Women and Girls in Sport and Recreation.
We have prominent, successful sports identities Natalie Cook and Professor Doune Macdonald spearheading a new direction for lifelong participation in sport and active recreation.
The committee will hold its first round table on the Sunshine Coast next month. Community groups have been invited, including women's business network groups and sport organisations, managers of gyms and fitness clubs, schools and universities.
I encourage members of the public to share concerns and ideas with these groups ahead of the round table, to ensure the best outcomes.
The Get in the Game program also involves upgrading facilities. So far we've invested more than $24 million in better services and facilities for sport and recreation clubs across the state.
On the Sunshine Coast, we've put $2,426,871 into helping clubs grow their membership, and improve facilities.
This has included more than $91,000 for Buderim Wanderers Football Club to install drainage at Ballinger Park while the University of the Sunshine Coast Athletics Club has received $100,000 for timing and storage facilities.
The Maroochydore Junior Rugby League Club's $100,000 grant is helping extend its clubhouse plus it has received another $9930 to provide coach referee and first aid accreditation to volunteers, develop skills and purchase equipment.
Caloundra City Soccer Club received $100,000 for field lighting and solar power at Russell Barker Park and $9644 to conduct accreditation of coaches and purchase equipment. Maroochydore Cricket Club Incorporated is using its $100,000 grant to upgrade two local standard cricket practice wickets to six international standard cricket practice wickets.
Of course recreation is another avenue to health and fitness. Recently I revealed plans to introduce the Nature Play concept in Queensland.
This initiative is about shifting our children's focus from screen time to green time, and ensuring our kids get out there and make playing outdoors and exploring our national parks and forests a bigger part of their lives.
The missions include nature scavenger hunts, climbing a hill or making a bush walking stick. Many provide great opportunities for quality family time. I've announced $1.5 million over three years to get the concept off the ground.
Along with my fellow Coast MPs, I'm committed to giving our local boys and girls a path to better health and fitness through encouraging involvement in recreation and sport. It gives children a passport to better health and fitness.