Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Sporting chance for children

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today told national sporting associations that they have a key role to play in addressing the high rates of childhood obesity.

Mr Anthony was addressing the Sport Industry Australia Summit “Giving Our Kids a Sporting Chance” at Parliament House in Canberra.

“The increasing numbers of overweight and obese children in Australia and the associated health risks they face is a very concerning issue. Twenty to 25 per cent of our children – that’s a million Australian children – are now overweight. As a nation, we must all acknowledge our responsibilities.

“Sporting associations have a very important role to play to make physical activity fun and encouraging children to stick with sport. Not everyone can be a Lleyton Hewitt, Jana Pitman or a George Gregan or Lauren Jackson, however, that does not mean they can not enjoy playing their sport as much as Australia’s champions.

“Children are watching their sporting heroes on television, but we are not turning that enthusiasm into healthy participation in sport. Getting our children from in front of the television and into fun physical activity is vitally important. We need to get out children off the Playstation and into the playground.

“I firmly believe the primary responsibility for children’s health and wellbeing rests with parents. However, it is the responsibility of all the key stakeholders to give parents the assistance they need to help educate their children on leading healthy lifestyles.

“We are asking parents, schools and communities – everyone with an influence over children – to play a part. Walk with children, play actively with them, encourage and support their sporting commitments.

“The Australian Government supports projects – large and small – that are trialling new ways of reaching children and parents.

“The Sporting Heroes project which has been funded $1 million over two years is a great example of young people learning from athletes about leadership, teamwork, volunteering and giving them the confidence to have a go.

“I am keen to work effectively with governments, parents and communities through the National Agenda for Early Childhood to improve children’s chances in life. We need to reduce the level of obesity and illness. Nothing is more important than the future of all our children,” Mr Anthony said.