AIS Deputy
Director Matti Clements says sports are working together to place greater
priority on the importance of athlete wellbeing and mental health, 12 months on
from the establishment of the AIS Wellbeing and Engagement division.

L-R Bianca Fermi, Josh Sebbens, Linley Frame, Matti Clements, Matt Murphy, Donna Jones

The AIS
has funded and embedded Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement managers in 15 sports
over the past six months, with plans to further expand that network to 20
across Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sports by end of 2019.

Clements
said the national expansion of these services had enhanced direct support for
athletes, but it had also led to greater collaboration across Australia’s high
performance sporting system.

“Our goal
is to support Australian athletes to be the most successful they can be in
sport and life,” Clements said. “To do that, it has been critical to build a
national approach to athlete wellbeing.

“The AIS
has worked in partnership with sports over the past year to elevate the
importance of athlete wellbeing in the high performance environment. We want
high performance environments where coaches are having meaningful conversations
with their athletes about their wellbeing as well as training.

“We are
building a team of Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement managers across sports and
Australia. It’s providing support in areas of mental health, career and
education, community engagement, conduct and professionalism and personal
development.

“As this
network continues to grow, we look forward to launching some new initiatives
this year with resourcing for mental health and activities where athletes can
better interact with their local communities.”

Former
world champion swimmer Linley Frame is working with Swimming Australia as their
Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement manager. Frame, a former AIS scholarship
holder, said it was important the AIS had led a national approach to athlete
wellbeing.

“Sport has
changed a lot since I was at the AIS in the 1980s and 90s, and the AIS has
great oversight to identify areas where sport has the most need and requires
leadership.

“Some
sports have been further ahead in terms of athlete wellbeing support than
others, but the great part of this network is that everyone is now connected
and, of course, everyone is passionate about athlete wellbeing and making sure
they’re our focus.

“It’s a
gradual process but already I’m seeing athletes directly benefit from it. We
need to continue to communicate to athletes – emerging pathway athletes in
particular – so they know what support is available to them.”

The AIS
will host a second annual Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Summit in May.

Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement managers
across sports:
Josh Sebbens (Athletics Australia); Donna Jones (Australian
Sailing); Sarah Conlon (Basketball Australia); Megan Fritsch (Bowls Australia);
Garry Moss (Hockey Australia); Angie Bain (Netball Australia); Alana Rybicki, Nikki
Burger (Olympic Winter Institute of Australia); Matt Murphy (Paddle Australia);
Bianca Fermi (Rowing Australia); Deidre Anderson (Softball Australia); Jason
Patchell (Surfing Australia); Linley Frame (Swimming Australia); Troy
Baverstock (Triathlon Australia); Sharyn Arnold (Water Polo Australia)

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