AusPlay participation data for the sports sector: summary of key national findings October 2015 - September 2016 data

21 Dec 2016

AusPlay is an independent research project at the population level which measures all types of activities in a consistent and comparable way. The ASC will use AusPlay information to fill in the gaps in national sport and physical recreation data on children, following the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ decision in 2014 to cease data collection.

For the first time adults’ and childrens’ sport and physical recreation participation data is being collected simultaneously, to better understand the relationship between the activity habits of children and parents. AusPlay hopes to deliver more detailed reporting, deliver it faster (i.e. insights from the data can be released just three months after collection), and deliver it more often (i.e. data will be updated every six months). This will enable AusPlay to identify and monitor key trends across the sport and active recreation landscape. Compared to previous data extraction of sport and recreation information from larger Australia Bureau of Statistics social surveys, AusPlay will cover a wider view of sport and recreation topics and allow for deeper and more timely analysis.

Key insights from the first reporting period include:


  • While sport remains an important form of physical activity throughout life, non-sport related physical activity becomes more important (i.e. in terms of frequency of participation) as we age. Overall, 87% of adults participated in some form of sport or physical activity during the previous 12 months. Generally, there is a decline in the sport participation rate in successive adult age-groups.
  • 59% of adults participated in sport or non-sport related physical activity three or more times per week.
  • Australian adults tend to play sports for longer durations than non-sport related physical activities; however they participate in non-sport related physical activities more frequently.
  • The top 5 reasons why adults choose to participate in sport are: (1) health or fitness; (2) enjoyment; (3) social reasons; (4) psychological, mental health, or personal wellbeing benefits, and;(5) to lose weight or help manage body weight.
  • Women are more likely to participate in sport or physical activity for physical and mental health reasons and to lose or maintain weight. Men are more motivated by fun/enjoyment and social reasons.
  • The top 5 barriers to participation are: (1) not enough time or too many other commitments; (2) poor health or injury; (3) increasing age; (4) too lazy, and; (5) don’t like sport of physical activity.


  • 69% of children (i.e. under the age of 15) participated in some form of organised sport or physical activity outside of school hours.
  • Only 19% of children are active at least three or more times per week in activities outside of school hours.
  • Participation rates for boys and girls were similar; however, girls in the 9-11 years age group were slightly more likely to participate in sport or physical activity compared to their male peers.
  • The top 4 barriers to participation are: (1) wrong age fit to available sport or activities (this declines as an important issue among older children); (2) not enough time or too many time commitments; (3) don’t like sport or physical activity, (4) can’t afford the cost of sport, or transportation issues.
  • Boys are more likely to participate in club sports than girls, among all age-groups.
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