Two years ago Australian athletics came as close as it ever has, via the One Athletics vote, to forming a united national body to lead the sport. In a multi-part Q&A series we connect with leaders in the sport to look at what has occurred since, current issues of the day and visions for the future.
What happened with One Athletics?
In 2020, in an unprecedented display of leadership, the Board of Little Athletics Australia and the Board of Athletics Australia each committed to a journey seeking to form a new merged entity to lead the sport nationally. Following detailed consultation through a COVID interrupted period, in August 2021 both Little Athletics Australia and Athletics Australia endorsed the 71-page business case for the merger, which included themes of:
- Efficiency and streamlined operations
- A unified voice and impact for the athletics
- Commercial growth opportunities from the corporate and government sectors
- Savings and resource allocation across the sport
- Clearer athlete pathways for lifelong participation in athletics
For the merger to take place the members of Little Athletics Australia and the members of Athletics Australia, their relative state associations, each had to pass a special resolution at a Special General Meeting, requiring at least 75% support to form a new national body. On 9 December 2021:
- The special resolution was passed by Athletics Australia’s member states.
- The special resolution wasn’t passed by Little Athletics Australia’s member states. As a result, the merger could not occur.
What has happened since?
New national leadership
Esteemed sports administrator Kate Palmer, who was jointly appointed by the Boards of Little Athletics Australia and Athletics Australia to lead both organisations through the merger, concluded in her role of CEO of One Athletics.
Peter Bromley, who was acting CEO of Athletics Australia during the final 8 months leading into the vote, was permanently appointed to the role in December 2021. Four months prior to the vote, Mark Arbib stepped down as AA’s President, to be replaced by Jan Swinhoe. More recently, last month Jane Flemming was appointed President of the Athletics Australia, replacing Swinhoe who retired from the AA Board having served her maximum allowable Director term.
Sherrie Boulter became the President of Little Athletics Australia six weeks prior to the merger vote, replacing Andrew Pryor. Myles Foreman commenced as CEO of Little Athletics Australia in June 2022, to fill the role that had been vacant for the 12 months prior to the merger vote and for the six months following.
A change in the athletics landscape at state level
There is now a single state level organisation leading the sport in three jurisdictions: Western Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory.
Western Australia had led the nation ahead of the national merger vote when in June 2020 Athletics West and Little Athletics WA merged.
Athletics ACT and Little Athletics ACT united to form Capital Athletics in August of this year, a process that had commenced in 2018.
In the Northern Territory, Athletics NT was a member of both AA and LAA, but chose to no longer affiliate with LAA in the lead up to the merger vote, stating in its 2021 Annual Report: “Following several years receiving very little benefit from LAA for our association and athletes, your Board made the decision to no longer affiliate with LAA.” LAA subsequently now has one less member association.
What else has happened?
What are the current issues of the day?
What’s the vision for the future?
We’ve reached out for Q&A interviews with the following leaders in Australian Athletics to answer these questions, which we’ll publish over the coming days:
Thursday – Vince Del Prete, CEO of Athletics West