The Australian Government has moved to ensure travel arrangements for major international sporting events are gender-equitable and that female athletes receive the same travel standards as male athletes.

Minister for Sport Sussan Ley and Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair John Wylie AM have written to the country’s top-funded sporting organisations highlighting progress in women’s sport but also calling on them for continued support and growth.

As part of the letter, the Federal Government is proposing to make gender-neutral travel policies for senior major championships a condition of investment by the ASC in a sport.

“The Turnbull Government and the ASC are committed to the fair recognition and reward of elite female athletes, and to the promotion of female participation in all levels and forms of Australian sport,” Minister Ley said.

“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 such as world cups or championships.

“Australia’s elite female athletes continue to demonstrate not just the very best of their sporting ability, but also leadership and integrity both on and off the field.

“This is another important step towards fair and equitable recognition and reward for female athletes in this country.”

There have been many recent examples of Australia’s elite female athletes proving their world-class ability, including the Diamonds taking out the Netball World Cup, the Southern Stars claiming cricket’s Ashes and Michelle Payne becoming the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.

The inaugural Women’s Big Bash League competition has also proven to be a breakthrough in terms of broadcasting and commercial opportunity.

“Yet ASC research and evidence tells us that women’s sport still captures less than 10 per cent of all commercial sponsorship,” Mr Wylie said.

“In addition to funding sports, the Australian Government – through the Australian Institute of Sport – directly invests in more than 800 of Australia’s best athletes under its direct Athlete Investment (dAIS) programme.

“More than 50 per cent of recipients are women, and these investment decisions are made strictly on performance merit and potential.”

The Australian Government has been encouraged by the rising influence of female administrators on sporting boards, but re-emphasised the push for continued progress. 

In 2013 the ASC released governance principles calling on top-funded sports to work towards a target of 40 per cent of female representation on boards. The average level of female representation on the boards of the top-22 funded sports has since increased by 12 per cent, jumping from 27 per cent in 2013 to 39 per cent.

“Australian sport is unquestionably better for this progress,” Minister Ley said.

Minister Ley said sports were currently in the process of being advised by letter of their obligations under these new arrangements, including the requirement to provide evidence the sport was delivering gender-equitable policies or a plan to transition to more-equitable arrangements.

“We acknowledge there can be complexities in travel arrangements, especially in relation to sponsored travel, which is why this is a consultative process.

“Ultimately this is about working with sports to embrace cultural change, but we are serious about gender-equity and we have appropriate measures in place to ensure these principles are adopted.”