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Reinstate the WAIS Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Program Request for Ministerial Intervention The Honourable Mia Jane Davies MLA Minister of Sport and Recreation


Contents p3 p5

Our Request Reasons to Reinstate the WAIS Gymnastics Program • The significance of the sport • Gymnastic return on WAIS investment • WAIS WAG has delivered its purpose and vision • WAIS WAG has exceeded its KPIs • The future talent is bright • WAG needs WAIS • The national capacity is credible and capable • Partners in success • Positive course of action commenced • The community cares p85 Time for action


Our Request

Gymnastics Australia (GA) and Gymnastics Western Australia (GWA) would like to respectfully request that Minister Davies intervenes in the decision by WAIS to no longer fund the Women’s Artistic Gymnastic Program.

On 7 July 2016, WAIS notified GA that it will cease financial and management support for the GA WA Women’s Artistic Gymnastics National Training Centre currently managed and operated by WAIS on 31 December 2016. We believe there are compelling and compassionate arguments which deem this decision by WAIS as not being the appropriate and the right decision for what WAIS’ role is in the State. This now warrants the Minister’s intervention. These reasons are listed and detailed in this document. Minister Davies , we are sincerely grateful for your time, and ask that you take these factors into account when assessing our request . We hope that as an advocate of women’s sport and a prominent female leader in this State, this perspective is considered.


She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans. KOBI YAMADA


10 Reasons to Reinstate the WAIS Gymnastics Program 1

Artistic Gymnastics is an Olympic Games Tier 1 sport and one of the most popular and prestigious sports throughout the world.


Gymnastics is a good return on investment given gymnastics’ significance and value to WA’s & Australia’s sporting success.


WAIS WAG has continuously delivered against WAIS’ purpose and vison. We have produced a lot of home grown champions.



WAIS WAG has an impressive record of meeting its key performance indicators, often outshining other WAIS sport programs.

Athlete Performance Profiling undertaken indicates we are well positioned to be competitive at Benchmark Events in the 20172020 Olympic Cycle.


Gymnastics needs WAIS. The Daily Performance Environment (DPE) required to produce World Class gymnasts cannot be provided at the club level.


The National System has the capacity to deliver Australia’s high performance outcomes.WAIS and the NCE – Melbourne are integral to this.


An opportunity is needed to restore working relationships, and as united partners achieve shared goals and international success.


In the 2015 Facilitated Review of Gymnastics, all partners, including WAIS, agreed on positive courses of actions. Many have already been initiated.


The broader community and Olympic and Commonwealth Games committees do not support WAIS’ decision and would look favourably on a Government that intervenes.

Overall the decision was not appropriately considered, is short sighted and is not supported by the larger community. 5

Only 3% of the WA community strongly support the WAIS decision and 7 in 10 would feel positive towards WAIS and the State Government if the

decision was reversed. Source: Independent General Population Survey, Painted Dog Research



This isn’t the time to turn our backs on them.


1. The significance of gymnastics


The History of Gymnastics at a Glance Gymnastics is one of the most watched Olympic sports that combines grace, athleticism and strength in a thrilling display of competition and has captivated fans since the debut of the modern Olympic Games. Gymnastics evolved from exercises used by the ancient Greeks that included skills for mounting and dismounting a horse, and was originally intended for military training, where it was used by soldiers to prepare for war. By the end of the nineteenth century, gymnastic competitions were popular enough to be included in the first "modern" Olympic Games in 1896 and today is described as one of the most thrilling sports to watch. The Federation of International Gymnastics is the oldest international sporting federation and conducts three World Championships in every Olympic Cycle.


According to Topend Sports, the sport voted as the favourite Summer Olympics sport for Rio 2016 is gymnastics.

Popularity Across the World According to Topend Sports, gymnastics was voted as the favourite Summer Olympics sport for Rio 2016, followed by track & field and swimming. The same findings were also recorded for the 2012 Olympics*. During the 2012 London Olympics, gymnastics was ranked th as the 4 most tweeted Olympic sport –behind soccer (which achieved around five million tweets), athletics and swimming.

Analysis of internet traffic to the IOC website** revealed nd gymnastics to be the 2 most popular sport with around 323,000 page views over a 12 month period. It came second to the combined strength of the aquatic sports (swimming, diving, syncro, polo, etc), which achieved around 430,000 page views.

*Source: Topend Sports poll 2016 and 2012. **Source: IOC - Olympic Program Commission, Report to the 117th IOC Session, 24 May 2005.


Gymnastics is One of the Toughest Sports Gymnasts need to train from a young age and for many hours per week to condition their bodies physically, and their minds mentally to compete at an international level. The skills a gymnast needs to be able to perform are not skills that can come later in life and are dramatically different to the skills required in other key international sports. Elite gymnasts are not trying to see who can run or swim fastest in a straight line, and neither are they attempting something that all humans are naturally capable of. They are pushing their bodies to jump, spin and twist (usually all of the above), two or three times in the air, with perfect precision and toes pointed and land without stumbling or even swaying….on a beam four inches wide.

Children in this sport train at a level that is equivalent to, and often much more than, elite adults in most other sports. At the age of nine – 20 hours per week, age ten – 23 hours per week, age eleven – 25 hours per week. For comparison, a highly paid (and funded for that matter) AFL sportsman might train 18 hours per week at their peak. Furthermore, there is no ‘off season’ for a gymnast and skill acquisition NEVER ends throughout their career.

… don’t be fooled by the leotards, people. The things gymnasts do make Navy Seals look like wusses. And we do them without a gun…

Stick it


Popularity in Australia and in WA Gymnastics is a sport which is a pacesetter, and is rapidly growing.

Gymnastics National Participation Statistics 179, 443 2015 GA Annual Registrations (75% female) Source: 2015 Gymnastics Australia Annual Report

394, 910 Individuals engaged in gymnastics activities delivered by affiliated clubs Source: 2014-2015 GA Annual Club Survey

1,732,100 Individuals engaged in activities delivered by non-affiliated gymnastics providers Source: 2014-2015 GA Annual Club Survey

Growth in Registered Gymnasts

“ “

We are speaking on behalf of 180,000 registered members of the sport including OVER 12,000 from WA.

In 2001, gymnastics had 83,625 athlete members and has enjoyed 15 years of year-on-year consecutive growth, averaging 7.64%.

2012 2013 2014 2015

National Registrations 144,659 156,746 164,134 179,443

% Increase from Previous Year 4.5% 8.0% 5.0% 9.3%

Overall there has been a 150% increase in registrations across Australia since the 2000 Olympic Games. Source: GA Annual Reports


Gymnastic Participation Statistics in Female Sport


367,000 participants

According the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2012, in the most recent study of its kind, gymnastics is the 4th largest organised sport among females in Australia with 109,800 participants, and ahead of many other sports including basketball, soccer, tennis, athletics and hockey. Only behind dancing, swimming and netball.


257,000 participants


220,000 participants



The Decision is Counteractive to the Growth in Women’s Sport The decision by WAIS to no longer fund elite WAG counter acts the progress being made in supporting women’s sport such as AFL and cricket. Withdrawing support for a key sport such as gymnastics, doesn’t help recognise and contribute to women’s sport as a whole.



86,000 participants








Gymnastics in WA is also Growing 1. 2.

Technical Membership Growth

The number of registered members in WA has grown for five years in a row and the number of technical members (coaches and judges) for four years straight. In 2015, growth in WA was further assisted by the addition of seven new affiliated clubs and 54 school programs delivering gymnastics training to 5,500 school students per annum.

Membership Growth


Why International Sporting Success Matters “High performance success is not only good for our athletes and our sense of national pride, it also contributes to other important Government objectives in areas such as participation, economic development, health and education.

Local participation

International participation

While Australia's Winning Edge is focused on high performance sport, the connection this has to grassroots participation is well established. Participation will continue to be a key focus area for Australian, state and territory governments”. Source: Australia’s Winning Edge 2012-2022

International achievement

Paige James Senior International Indigenous Role Model


“I love being a WAIS gymnast because I'm inspired each and every day to reach my maximum potential.” WAIS Darcy Norman, 16 yrs

“Without WAIS gymnastics I wouldn’t be able to train as an international gymnast as the club gyms are not good enough. Also I wouldn’t have Lauren, Emily and Olivia to look up to.” WAIS Fliers Maddison Potter, 9 yrs

“I love being a WAIS Flier because I look, leap and can believe.”


WAIS Fliers Paisley –Pearl Backshall, 10 yrs

“I like being a Fliers gymnast at the Elite program because I can train really hard, learn new skills and one day represent Australia just like the girls in the past have done.” WAIS Fliers Ciara McQueen, 8 yrs


Importance of Gymnastics to Other Sports ‘Spin to Win’ is a collaborative project led by GA in partnership with Diving Australia (DA), Ski & Snowboard Australia (SSA) and the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA).

Alisa Camplin

It is a sophisticated Talent Identification and Transfer program which results in having high quality acrobatic talent training in the most suitable High Performance Sport Development Pathway. Other sports which our elite gymnasts have successfully transferred to include weight lifting, wrestling, pole vault, AFL, hurdles and other winter sports; half pipe, freestyle skiing, luge and skeleton. Impressively, 84% of the State Institute Divers across Australia have a come from gymnastics and 100% of the Aerial Skiing athletes have a background in competitive gymnastics – which includes all of their Olympic medallists. Of particular note, considering WA is far from the skiing fields, Gillian Chan is a former WAIS senior international gymnast who made it on to the Development Aerial Skiing squad. Additionally, Jade Martin and Ashley Cooney were also former WAIS gymnasts who have moved into winter sports, where they aimed to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games.

Ashley Cooney

Aerial Skiing – Gymnastics Background


With gym background


Without gym background


Divers – Gymnastics Background







0% 84%



With gym background




Without gym background





Males with gym background





Males without gym background




25% 88% 12%

Females with gym background




Females without gym background





If anything, it’s a time to ramp up the funding – not cut it. Minister, we believe it’s not a time to reduce funding, it’s a time to help gymnastics get back on track by increasing funds to a level that will actually make a difference, not just maintain the status quo.


2. Gymnastics return on WAIS investment


The Increasing Cost of Operating the WAG WAIS Program WAIS feel the return on investment has decreased over the past three years due to a dramatic increase in the cost to operate the program.

Based on an average of 15 scholarship holders, the cost per athlete to WAIS ALMOST DOUBLED from $25,314 in 2012-2013 to a high of $49,950 in 2014-2015.

The figures available to GA for the WAIS operational budgets are:

Current Costs Too High In the 2014-15 FY WAIS invested $749,258 in the WAG program which was deemed too expensive and was a big factor in the decision to close the Program. • WAIS states in its 2014-2015 annual report that the average cost per athlete across all sports was $38,079. • The average cost in gymnastics was $49,950 largely due to additional support provided to families to alleviate the financial stress of paying high tuition fees”. • To maintain support to families, the total funding cannot be decreased – we need to ensure we can sustain support and provide opportunities for upcoming talent.


Gymnastics Australia has been Trying to Help Since 2008, Gymnastics Australia has increased its direct investment in the WAIS WAG program by 300% - from $60,000 up to $185,000 in 2016. When WAIS first raised the issue of reducing its funding of the WAIS gymnastics program, GA offered to increase its investment and work with WAIS to find efficiencies in other areas such as coach salaries, scholarship allocation, etc.

Key Finding $35,000 $185,000 $185,000 $140,000 $60,000





A Better Return on Investment GA and GWA want to work with WAIS to create a more efficient and sustainable program model that meets WAIS objectives, the national AWE objectives as well as GA & GWA objectives. In doing so, we believe the WAG WAIS program can achieve a strong return on investment for WAIS and its partners.

Sustainable budget - key areas Review the number of individual scholarships and explore tiered benefit system.

Review remuneration of coaches. Align coaching wages to gymnastics industry standards and/or explore performance based pay systems.

Review Sport Science Sports Medicine servicing model.

Review athlete fees and potentially align with national program (NCE-MEL).

Review avenues to create other ongoing income streams (TID classes, clinics).

Review current WAIS contribution

Review current GA & GWA funding levels

Review contributions from other sources such as commercial sponsors


An Inequitable Investment Whilst the investment into gymnastics has been appreciated , it is relatively small compared to some other sports - including those that do not deliver on AWE’s goals and also sports that have substantially lower participation rates than gymnastics.

We need to contextualise spend by looking at other sports investments the State Government is making – such as the Community Sporting and Recreational Facilities Fund (CSRFF) which since 2008 has allocated more than $140million to sports and rec facilities across the State in projects totaling over $900m.

EXAMPLE INVESTMENTS Perth Stadium WAIS High Performance Centre Lawn bowling Lathlain Park – Eagles training oval, running track City of Cockburn – Aquatic facilities and Dockers training oval HBF Arena - netball, rugby, football, basketball City beach surf life saving

$918m $31m $14m (since 2008) $10m $10m $4.3m $1.9m

We sincerely hope the State Government can allocate an amount to continue to help the WAIS WAG women’s gymnastics program continue. 22

3. WAIS WAG has delivered its purpose and vision


WAIS Purpose “To provide opportunities for talented West Australian athletes to achieve excellence in elite sport with support from their home environment.�

There is ample evidence that the WAIS WAG Program fulfills the purpose and vision stipulated in the WAIS 2013-17 Plan.

Providing Opportunities Over the past 28 years, the WAIS Gymnastics Program has provided opportunities for an estimated 500 selected gymnasts. Starting with a humble beginning of just eight gymnasts the program now caters for an average of 60 athletes per year from six to 25 years of age. These athletes continue to achieve at the local, state, national and international levels and include many of Australia’s top prospects for the 2020 and the 2024 Olympic Games.


WAIS WAG remains one of the strongest gymnastics programs the country has to offer. Its reputation for developing elite gymnasts has attracted many gymnasts and families from interstate and overseas.

“…9 months ago, we moved from Sydney to here because it is the best program in the country. They produce champions…my daughter just came 2nd at Nationals. WA came 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. So what do you think closing this program does to gymnastics in the country? They [WAIS] have no idea of what they have just done. WAIS Parent


Achieving Excellence A core component of WAIS’ Purpose is “…to achieve excellence” - an aspect that WAIS gymnasts have not just met, but arguably exceeded. Outstanding outcomes of WAIS WAG at the Senior International include:










WAIS Vision “To produce champions.�

The WAIS WAG program has a strong track record in producing champions.

Since 1989, more than 40 WAIS senior and junior gymnasts have achieved Australian representation and won more than 160 Senior International Medals, plus countless junior medals. This includes medals at the following events: World Championships Commonwealth Games FIG World Cups

1 Gold , 2 Silver, 1 Bronze 10 Gold, 10 Silver, 3 Bronze 11 Gold, 11 Silver, 9 Bronze


WAIS WAG Champions Numerous stand-out WAIS gymnasts have achieved impeccable international results, have won many medals internationally and some have medal tallies unsurpassed by any other Australian athlete in sport. ALLANA SLATER (1999-2004) • Inducted into WA Hall of Champions • 67 medals at Senior International including at World Championships, Commonwealth Games, World Cups & Pacific Rim • Holds the Commonwealth Games record for the highest total of medals won by any West Australian in any sport • 5 times all around finalist at World Championships / Olympic Games level • Dual Olympian • 2 times apparatus finalist at World Championships / Olympic Games • 1 time medallist at World Championships DASHA JOURA (2006-2007) • 35+ medals at Senior International including at World Cups & Pacific Rim • 2 times all around finalists at World Championships and Olympic Games th • 5 all around final at World Championships • 1 time apparatus finalist at World Championships LAUREN MITCHELL (2009-present) • 40+ medals at Senior International including World Championships, Commonwealth Games, World Cups & Pacific Rim • First woman to achieve a Gold medal at World Championships • Holds the Commonwealth Games record for the most Gold medals (4) won by any West Australian in any sport. • 3 times all around finalist at World Championships • 3 times placed in top 8 in all around final at World Championships • 7 times apparatus finalist at World Championships and Olympic Games • 3 time medallist at World Championships








WA Winning International Level 10 Team 2016 Australian Championships: Front: Maddy Verdon, Sophie Mahoney, Sophie Prince, Grace Barry, Sasha King:Back::Regan Molyneaux (coach), Sidney Stephens, Dayna Sulaiman, Lily Gresele, Josh Fabian (coach)



WAIS gymnasts hold records for achieving more Commonwealth Games total medals and gold medals than ANY other Western Australian athlete in ANY sport EVER.

4. WAIS WAG has exceeded its KPIs


National Representation One of the Key Performance Indicators required by WAIS is a minimum requirement of 10% national team representation at key international events such as World Championships, Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games. As shown below WAIS WAG has consistently delivered well above this minimum requirement. WAIS WAG has represented 26% of the Senior National team over the last 28 years –- two to three times higher than the minimum requirement. If WAIS WAG ceased to exist, Gymnastics Australia will be losing one of it strongest performing programs in the country.











DG %

1989-1992 Summary 1992-1996 Summary 1997-2000 Summary 2000-2004 Summary 2005-2008 Summary 2009-2012 Summary 2013-2016 Summary

64% 41% 18% 32% 19% 0% 0%

32% 18% 18% 24% 31% 35% 22%

4% 27% 36% 24% 23% 23% 44%

0% 9% 27% 20% 4% 8% 6%

0% 5% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

0% 0% 0% 0% 8% 8% 0%

0% 0% 0% 0% 15% 19% 22%

0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 8% 0%

0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 25%

0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%













World Class and Podium Performances In terms of podium performances, WAIS gymnasts have accounted for 45% of Australians who have placed in the Top 8 at World Championships or Olympic Games between 1989-2015 and 40% of those who medalled during this period.

These results justify the investment WAIS has made in gymnastics.

Top 8 Performance Representation % 9

Medal Performance Representation %


10 45

24 15


30 20


WAIS WAG has been one of the strongest performing programs out of all WAIS sports.


Personal and Community Values A key performance indicator assesses the personal values of WAIS national team representatives. It is aligned with producing champions who are not only successful in sport but also reflect community values in the way they act on and off the sporting field. WAIS WAG athletes over the last 28 years have met behavioural expectations stipulated by WAIS. Their conduct has been exemplary.

Outstanding results by leading WAG athletes have instilled community pride in our achievements and accomplishments. In particular, the names Allana Slater and Lauren Mitchell are very familiar to many Western Australians. Beyond the codes of conduct, there are many examples of how WAIS WAG athletes have given back to their sport and the community. A few key highlights are below.

Beyond the Codes of Conduct, WAIS gymnasts have been great ambassadors for the sport, with numerous gymnasts demonstrating qualities of being strong role models, community leaders and good citizens.

Allana Slater (2000, 2004 Olympian) • FIG International level judge • Vice President WA Olympic Committee • Vice President WA Commonwealth Games Association • Gymnastics Ambassador

Olivia Vivian (2008 Olympian) • Gymnastics community program delivery • Owner Leaky Tap Café • Passionate gymnastics advocate

Michelle Telfer (1992 Olympian) • Former WAIS Board Member • Former GA Board Member • Head of Adolescent Health Unit – Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital • World Expert – Gender Dysphoria


5. The future talent is bright


A Decision Based on Performance in ‘One’ Cycle is Premature The recent performance of WAIS WAG has been criticised by WAIS and stated as one of its key considerations when making the decision to close the program effective 31 December, 2016.

Cyclical performances can be expected from any sport It is acknowledged that in the last Olympic Cycle, WAG has not performed as strongly as in previous cycles. However, in previous Olympic Cycles the graph below shows:  any dips experienced along the way have been well and truly short lived  WAIS WAG’s performance has consistently achieved above the WAIS 10% targets  the WAIS percentage of medallists as well as World Class performances rose from 2000-2012  the last Olympic cycle achieved outstanding results – one would describe it as a ‘stellar’ cycle.  indications are that WAG will return to previous levels of performance.  the size and calibre of the WAIS talent pool is strong and contains many of Australia’s top prospects for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.

It would be naïve to think that other sports do not experience similar periods or patterns of decline. This can actually play a positive role for a sport, as a catalyst for improvement.

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

WAIS % of Australian team representation WAIS % of World Class performance WAIS % of Australian medals at World Class performances

TARGET 1989-1992









They say that for football teams, you need to lose a grand final before you can really win one. Liam Ducey, WA Today


The 2016 Olympics does not paint the full picture of the strength of WAIS WAG or Australian Gymnastics An Australian gymnastics team did not qualify for the Rio Olympics - however this is not a fair indicator of the strength of WAIS WAG (or Australian Gymnastics for that matter). It is important to consider:  This is the first time since 1992 that Australia has failed to qualify a WAG team to the Olympics Games.  Australia was missing its strongest athlete Lauren Mitchell, who was injured and unable to compete in the qualification events for Rio. These untimely occurrences are to be expected in any sport – however, unlike large team sports such as hockey, basketball or soccer, it is far more difficult for the injury of one player to be absorbed by the rest.  Even one of the ‘greats’ – Romania, who has medalled in every Olympic Games going back to 1976, also failed to qualify a women’s team. One of their reigning world stars was also out of the qualifiers due to injury. Failures happen to the best of us.  Gymnastics Australia had a record 24 Senior athletes trial for Rio selection, with the majority of them having already committed to the 2017-2020 cycle. This figure shows the strongest start to any Olympic Cycle in Australia’s history.  WAIS athletes comprise 25% of the continuing seniors.

Do we extinguish a football team after a single season performance? I think not.

Jacqui Briggs-Weatherill, GA President


WAIS WAG Key Statistics

WAIS Contribution to National Representation at World Championships

WAIS WAG National Representation in 2014 - 2015 at World Championships 40%

The most recently published WAIS 2014-2015 Annual Report indicates that WAIS’ overall national team representation at World Championships was below target at 8.8%.



However, WAIS WAG representation was twice as high at 17%. Arguably WAIS overall’s figure would have been even lower if WAIS WAG representation was excluded.




WAIS Overall


Source: 2014-2015 WAIS Annual Report

WAIS WAG outperforms WAIS Overall at 2014 Commonwealth Games WAIS WAG’s national representation at the 2014 Commonwealth Games was 40% - nearly seven times higher than that achieved by WAIS Overall.

WAIS Contribution to National Representation at 2014 Commonwealth 40%






WAIS Overall


Source: 2014-2015 WAIS Annual Report


WAIS Annual Report Only 12 months ago, WAIS was highlighting how well its gymnasts were performing, as referenced in the most recently published Annual Report. It is puzzling to understand the change in WAIS sentiment just 12 months later.


‌Lauren Mitchell and Emily Little underlined their class, by winning national titles at the Australian Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne. Mitchell, competing at a tenth nationals campaign, earned gold on floor, whilst Little claimed her national title on vault, with silver in both floor and all around competitions.



Just one year ago, WAIS WAG athletes achieved the EQUAL HIGHEST in the number of combined podium performances out of ALL WAIS sports‌again proving its value as a program.

The 2014-2015 WAIS Annual report highlights the relative performance of WAIS WAG compared to other sports using its Athlete Performance Scorecard. As can be seen from the table below, WAIS Gymnastics has performed well and contributed strongly to WAIS overall targets.


Recent Performance is not an Indicator of a Downward Trend A key indicator of future capacity of athletes is skill level for age. National testing data indicates a significant increase in the past four years in skill level of developing athletes across Australia. From the age of eight years onwards, athletes are tested twice per annum for mastery of elements in the IDEAL skills syllabubs. Points are allocated for each skill according to level of mastery. Evidence of this is as follows: • Using data collected by GA IDEAL skills testing system. • Comparing the top 10 gymnasts in Australia for each age on this test. • Compare the skill level of the 40 gymnasts who were born in 1997-2000 (2016 Olympic cycle cohort) with an age matched sample of the gymnasts from the current cohort (2001-2004) on the same testing items on the IDEAL skills test. • As shown below, there has been an improvement in three of the four age groups in the technical level of the new cohort of girls directly preparing for the 2020 Olympic cycle – the average increase in skill level is 10%.


Joanne Richards GA Pathways Manager

Average IDEAL Skill Score for Top 10 Gymnasts

9000 Total Points

Currently, WAIS gymnasts have five out of the top 10 gymnasts from the 2003 age group and four of the top five 2004 age group gymnasts in the country. If Australia were to lose these young WAIS gymnasts from the pool, it would be a disaster for the future of Australian gymnastics.

8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 19 year old

18 year old 2016 Olympic

17 year old

16 year old

2020 Olympic


2017-2020 Australian Athlete Pool is Stronger than Ever

# Senior Internationals Indications are that there are over 20 athletes in the current pool of Senior International qualified athletes who are continuing training post Rio. This is the largest number ever transferring from one Olympic Cycle to the next. WAIS = 25%

# New Athletes in Next Olympic Cycle There are currently 87 new athletes Australia wide entering the 2017-2020 cohort – one of the largest recorded to date. WAIS = 16%

# Australian Developing A or Higher AWE Categorised athletes Currently 13 athletes have posted performances which would have ranked them in the top 32 or higher against the 2015 World Championships results in the last 12 months WAIS = 30%



If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Bernard of Chartres


6. WAG needs WAIS



“Gymnastics has given me an extraordinary life. Without the WAIS gymnastics programme nurturing & believing in my talent from 6 years old and providing a path for my gymnastics journey, I would not have created many historical firsts for Australian Gymnastics, achieved 67 international medals or become the strong, independent, driven woman I am today. After the tragic death of my father in a plane crash, gymnastics became my focus during a time of heartbreaking grief. My life has forever been changed by this incredible journey, where I have been afforded the opportunity not only to strive for excellence in sport but also discover who I am as a person. Allana Slater Dual Olympian World Championship Bronze Medallist 8 time Commonwealth Games Medallist WA Sporting Hall of Champions Inductee BSc (Physiotherapy Hons)



Critical Success Factors WAIS identifies four critical success factors (CSFs) to enhance performance:

Quality athletes Appropriate training environment Competition opportunities Sport & life balance

This section demonstrates that high performance gymnastics in Western Australia needs WAIS to facilitate these CSFs – the clubs face impossible challenges in delivering these.

The WAIS Gymnastics Program provides a pathway for WA athletes – athletes have a genuine pathway from club level to World Class.

Quality athletes – involves club partnerships WA gymnastics clubs have a high level of understanding that they do not have the capacity to develop gymnasts to international level. Accordingly, WA clubs support the talent pathway by passing their best young athletes through to WAIS. Talent Identification is coordinated through the national ‘Spin to Win’ program in conjunction with WA club coaches and WAIS coaches. Continual assessment and re-assessment of an athlete’s capability to reach World Class level is possible due to the WAIS gymnastics program model, which caters for the full pathway from early development stage to Senior International. This structure is a proven world-wide model. WAIS athletes who are unable to progress to International level are actively assisted to return to their clubs to resume national level training



Appropriate training environment Coaching FTEM Model The structure of the WAIS gymnastics program follows best practice and is aligned to the Jason Gulbin’s FTEM Pathway Framework adopted by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). The WAIS model provides a complete high performance pathway from T1 to Mastery from within a single Daily Training Environment (DTE) with quality coaches. This is a proven world-wide model for International gymnastics success. The tiered program structure provides the optimal development for athletes as they move through each stage of the HP pathway, as per Gulbin’s model. Age appropriate ‘deliberate’ training is not available in WA’s club system, nor is it likely to do so in the future In the past 40 years, only one club in Australia has been able to offer this sustained model (Waverley Gymnastics 1,500 members - a big community club).

Training Facility & Equipment The Gymnastics Training Centre at HBF Stadium provides the essential components for High Performance gymnasts to train. There are no comparable facilities at club level in WA.

Specialist Services WAIS follows best practice for the provision of Sport Science Sport Medicine Services in all its Sport Programs, including gymnastics. This model would impossible to replicate within a club.

It. is important to note, that WAIS should not be categorised as a ‘Super Club’, because it is not a registered GWA or GA club. All WAIS athletes remain registered with and compete for their Foundation clubs.



Competition opportunities

Sport & life balance

The GA and WA competition calendars are integrated to provide competition opportunities ranging from local events to International opportunities.

The WAIS Gymnastics Program specifically includes activities which develop and promote sport and life balance, as well as developing strong behavioural standards and an outstanding culture.

All Junior International level and higher athletes have Individual Athlete Plans, which outline the required competitions necessary each year for each athlete. Funding for Senior Australian teams is largely provided by GA. At junior level, funding is shared between programs and GA. An interstate series has recently been established to provide additional competition experience without the athletes needing to travel internationally.

Athlete long term and annual plans incorporate activities which support Sport & Life balance which the clubs could not provide. For example: Schools and Transport • Both Floreat and Churchlands have provided longstanding support for WAIS WAG/Fliers athletes, providing them with ‘private study’ time and flexible school hours. • Transport to and from school has been arranged for WAIS WAG/Fliers athletes – a vital part of running the lower half of the program in assisting our developing athletes and their families to access the amount of training required while still meeting their educational requirements. Athlete Career & Development (ACE) • WAIS gymnasts have engaged strongly in the WAIS ACE program – delivered in their Daily Training Environment (DTE). • WAIS athletes have engaged in the National ACE program – delivered at national camps. Sport Psychology Program  WAIS gymnasts have engaged strongly in the WAIS gymnastics sports psychology program – delivered in their DTE.  WAIS athletes have engaged in the National Team Sport Psychology program – delivered at national camps and on selected international tours.

Community Champions  Many WAIS athletes have been involved in the active delivery of community programs through both WAIS and Gymnastics WA. In fact, there is an impressive list of retired WAIS international gymnastics representatives who continue to contribute strongly to the community through their chosen fields – many of who are in the health industry.



In 2014 Lauren Mitchell received the Athlete Career and Education Excellence Award for achievements in balancing athletic with academic demands, in a year that saw Mitchell represent Australia at the Commonwealth level for the second time. Mitchell won dual silver in Glasgow and studies Medical Imaging at Curtin University.



Club pathway not an option As the Minister is aware, Western Australia is a remote State, with a smaller and geographically spread population which faces unique challenges. Similarly, each sport has its own unique requirements to succeed. Each State and each sport within that State needs to develop its own unique system for supporting high performance programs based on the opportunities and constraints surrounding them. Gymnastics is a difficult and demanding sport, requiring long development times and specialised coaching and equipment to ensure safe and age appropriate developmental progression. From 1989-2015, only two of the 33 Australian World Class performances and 10 Australian medal performances, came from club based gymnasts - proving that the likelihood of sustained international success from within a club is very low.

The full high performance pathway in gymnastics in this State can simply not be accommodated at the club level – we need WAIS.




Star-Mites Gym Sports is one of the leading gymnastics clubs in Western Australia, with over 2000 children and young adults being coached in our centres every week. The decision to cut the program by WAIS will have a huge impact on not only our sport but also our club. Clubs such as ours do not have the resources to run an elite gymnastics program, we do not have the equipment nor do we have the floor time to give over to such a program. We do not have the support team required to run such a program. If the decision made by WAIS was based on the assumption that clubs could deliver the elite gymnastics program, the decision was based on ignorance, and with no consultation what so ever with the clubs and or the families that would be impacted by such a drastic decision.

Gail Melinger CEO Star-Mites Gym Sports


“I love being a FLIERS gymnast because of all the great opportunities and experiences that the program gives to me. I get to train with amazing coaches that help me get the best out of my gymnastics training.”

“I love being a WAIS/FLIERS gymnast because they believe in my dream. Making new skills in the gym gives me the feeling of pride, accomplishment and power.” WAIS Lily Gresele, 15 yrs

WAIS Fliers Zoe Thair, 12 yrs


“… I like to be challenged by the top coaches. I have tried going back to club gym but it’s not hard enough. I like being pushed to do harder and harder tricks, to make it perfect.”

“I love being a Fliers gymnast because I have the opportunity to train hard with the experienced coaches, who help me learn new skills everyday.” WAIS Fliers, Sofia Defrancesco, 10 yrs

WAIS Fliers Amelia Fredman, 10 yrs



Without WAIS‌ Without WAIS support, the opportunity for talented WAG gymnasts to achieve excellence within their home environment would be impossible. If the WAIS WAG program ceased to exist, the options for current athletes would be:

$ Return to their local clubs to train. Clubs are incapable of providing the necessary specialisation and level of coaching, infrastructure, safety and support required for developing high performance gymnastics.

Move interstate to further their sporting ambitions WA WAG athletes could be required to relocate as young as 11-12 years, causing major disruptions to their family life, education and social connections – not to mention the additional financial burden and stress this would place on the families in relocating.

Quit training towards international representation This would crush spirits and dreams. Those with high performance goals are likely to quit gymnastics, negatively impacting the growth of the sport.


20 Years Ago……a ‘Final’ Decision was Changed .

It is ironic that 20 years ago, WAIS was involved in a protracted battle with the Australian Gymnastics Federation regarding the athletes being forced to move to the AIS in Canberra to train.

Fortunately common sense prevailed, the AGF directive was overturned, and WAIS was able to continue to offer high quality training for athletes from within their home environment. Without this change of decision, WAIS would have missed out on the multitude of outstanding achievements of its gymnasts since then.


“ “

Without WAIS….

…I won’t be able to be an elite gymnast and I would lose everything that is special to me.” Mikayla Scerri, 11 yrs

Without WAIS…. …I will not be able to achieve my Tokyo 2020 Olympic dream. WAIS provides me with so many opportunities and experiences that I would not be able to get from my club… without my high performance coaches and gym I will not be able to achieve my dream.” Sidney Stephens, 13 years


“ .

Without WAIS….

… it’s impossible for me to pursue my dreams… strive for greatness and become a better version of myself.” Yasmin Collier 15 yrs


Without WAIS….

…my dream and hope of becoming an Olympic Gymnast will disappear like sand in the wind - gone forever. I have worked so hard for eight years and I won’t know how to live without it.” Clara Kolm, 12 years old.


“I like walking into the gym every morning facing challenges. This sport is my life.”

“I love being a WAIS gymnast because the gym is my second home.” WAIS Eleanor Griffith, 13 yrs

WAIS Fliers Isabelle McQueen, 12 yrs

“Gymnastics is my life, performing allows me to show who I am and engage with the audience.” WAIS Sasha King, 12 yrs

“… it has given me the skill to succeed in life, not just gymnastics.” WAIS Niamh Collins, 15 yrs


“…not only do I learn about gymnastics I also get to learn everyday life skills. Not only are we friends but we are family!” WAIS, Sophie Prince, 13 yrs

'Without WAIS gymnastics , I wouldn't know what to do with myself as it's such a big part of my life and I would miss all my great friends and coaches.' WAIS Fliers Monica Costa 11 yrs


Without the WAIS programme I wouldn’t have achieved my goals of becoming the best gymnast I can be. Without the WAIS programme I wouldn’t know a life without gymnastics and I couldn’t imagine a life that didn’t include the joy of gymnastics.

Without the WAIS programme the creation of an environment where aspiring gymnasts can utilise the resources to practice and perfect their love of gymnastics wouldn’t have been created.

I have come to love and cherish all who have helped and guided me on to my path of success, that includes my teammates and coaches, they are professional athletes and incredible instructors. They are also my friends, friends who I can trust and friends that I can depend on.

Without the WAIS programme I wouldn’t be the gymnast I am today.” Dayna Age, 15 yrs


7. National system is credible and capable


The National System has the Capacity to Lead and Succeed WAIS considered the “current capacity and capability of the national system” and suggested that there is no point in continuing its funding because the National system is failing. Reference: Letter by Steven Lawrence, dated 7 July 2016: “In evaluation of the GA WAG proposal we considered the recent performance of the WAIS program and the current capacity and capability of the national system within which the program sits.”

Gymnastics Australia maintains that the WAIS belief that the national system is failing is more of a reflection of WAIS’ lack of understanding than it is a true failing of the system.


Indicators showing the strength across the national system and that WAIS does not have to ‘go it alone’.

WAIS & NCE-MEL will underpin the 2020 campaign, complemented by other existing high performance programs providing additional individuals Highest number ever of Senior International gymnasts competing in Australian Olympic Trials (24 qualified at this level in 2016)

Strengthening partnerships and cooperation with Clubs as a feeder of emerging talent into high performance programs

Senior international pool is positioned to perform well in 2017 and 2018, whilst the next generation of athletes are maturing Increasing skill levels of upcoming talent for 2020 and 2024, tracking well against international competition in terms of skills for age and routine content

Gymnastics is the 4th largest growing sport in Australia – participation is highly correlated with elite success


8. Partners in success


Due Process Was Not Followed What started as a discussion around funding, turned into WAIS announcing a complete cessation of WAIS’ support to operate its Gymnastics Program. WAIS made this decision without consultation with its partners, GA & GWA. GA & GWA are still not privy to the facts presented to the WAIS board which precipitated this decision. Due to premature media knowledge of the WAIS board’s decision, GA was forced to respond with a media release on July 12. This was unfortunately the first time athletes, their families, coaching staff, clubs and the community were made aware of the WAIS decision.

How could any responsible sports administrator make a decision to close a high performance program which has been operating with proven success for 28 years, to announce it ahead of the Olympics, and then to give it less than six months to close its doors?


The Timeline Says It All An important letter from WAIS to GA on 12 May clearly summarised that it was looking for a budget cut of $300k, and that it would not make a firm commitment to WAIS gymnastics future until after the post Olympic reviews had been completed by AIS and future AIS funding to GA confirmed.

12 May

On 8 & 9 June 2016, WAIS & GA met to further discuss options to restructure the program for 2017 and beyond.

8-9 June

A follow up communication by GA summarising the meetings indicated that conversations were positive and that a solution based approach had been taken. At no stage was it mentioned that WAIS may have been considering closing the program.

10 June

Just weeks after the first letter, GA received a letter from WAIS contrary to the earlier one. The letter stated that financial and management support for the WAIS gymnastics program would cease, without any attempt to explore options for maintaining the program. Furthermore, the decision was not made after a post AIS Olympic review as had been promised.

7 July


Collaboration and Teamwork While the relationship between Gymnastics Australia, Gymnastics Western Australia and WAIS is not as positive as it once was, it must be acknowledged that there was a positive and successful partnership for many years.

Both GA and GWA want to turn this around and return the working relationship to the way it once was. United, we believe that we can be a stronger partnership than ever before and can help each other exceed our KPIs.




Athletes & Parents


9. Positive course of action commenced


Gymnastics Australia Facilitated High Performance Review

22/23 September 2015

“Workshop Report And Next Steps”

67 67

Gymnastics High Performance Facilitated Review In the facilitated review conducted in September 2015 by the AIS, with all partners and stakeholders present, a number of key areas to further the program’s effectiveness were explored.


Research & Innovation

Coaching Athletes




Gymnastics Australia has already implemented many actions to address priorities.


10. The community cares


The Community Perspective

In this section we demonstrate that the WAIS WAG program is not just important to the gymnasts, their families, the clubs and Gymnastics bodies, but it is vitally important to the community locally, nationally and internationally.

Many segments of the community care about the WAIS WAG program and are shocked at WAIS’ decision to end it. Support for the program is everywhere and is more prevalent than WAIS give it credit for. Community support for the program is also 100% consistent with one of WAIS’ key ‘Guiding Principals’ as outlined in its current strategic plan.

We substantiate the importance of the WAIS gymnastics program in a number of ways: 1. A representative survey of n=836 Western Australians. 2. A poll of n=2,772 Australians conducted by PerthNow (as at 27th July 2016). 3. A petition signed by n=5,327 West Australians (as at 27 July 2016). 4. By demonstrating the considerable media exposure that the closure of the WAIS WAG program has received both in Australia and across the world. 5. By highlighting that key teams and sporting figureheads of other sports are also against the decision.


The Community has Spoken Between 21 July 2016 and 25 July 2016 a representative survey of n=836 Western Australians was conducted by an independent consultancy Painted Dog Research. The research was conducted to quantify the community’s awareness that WAIS had stopped funding the program, the level of support for the closure of the program and feelings towards the State Government and WAIS if it were to reverse its decision. The findings are eyeopeners.

Key Finding No, not aware 44%

Yes, aware 56%

Nearly three out of five West Australians are aware that WAIS will no longer fund the Womens Artistic Elite Gymnastics Program.

Q: Are you aware that the WA Institute of Sport (WAIS) will no longer fund the Womens Artistic Elite Gymnastics Program?



The research shows that there are 13 times as many people who strongly oppose the WAIS decision compared to those who strongly support it.

Almost three out of four (73%) West Australians say they oppose WAIS’ decision to cut its funding of the program; and in fact an overwhelming four out of ten strongly oppose it. In contrast, there is little community support for the WAIS decision, with only 3% in strong support.

39% 34%


7% 3%

Strongly Oppose




Strongly Support


Three out of four (73%) West Australians indicate they would feel more positive to the State Government and WAIS if it reconsidered or reversed its decision. In fact, nearly one in four would feel very positive. A miniscule 2% say they would feel very negative, and 20% are undecided.

24% Very positive

49% Positive

Undecided Negative Very negative




Q: How would you feel towards the State Government and WAIS if it reconsiders or reverses its decision?


PerthNow Poll - did WAIS make the Right Call on Gymnastics Funding? PerthNow conducted a poll of n=2772 Australians to find out if the community believes WAIS was making the right call on cutting the gymnastics funding. The community clearly said ‘no’.

Key Finding 81%

14% 4%

Yes, WAIS made the right call

No, WAIS made the wrong call



Petition to the Minister – Mia Davies MLA Since the information was made public by the media, more than 5,000 people (5,327) signed the petition to save the program from closure. This number continues to build daily.


Public Outcry through the Media The public and the community have been outraged by the decision – yet another sign that they care. Many have publicly vowed to fight the decision. The announcement by WAIS has been heard across the world and is being talked about all over traditional and digital media.

July 21 Today Tonight

…the story [Today Tonight] had 57,000 views and 373 shares. Substantially more than any other story we’ve aired for quite a while. July 14 Sydney Morning Herald

Natalie Bonjolo Today Tonight


July 11

July 13 The Age

July 14 The West Australian


July 12 The West Australian - Sport

July 14 Western Suburbs Weekly

July 23 The West Australian


July 14 SBS

July 12 Zeinreich Blog

July 12 Australian Leisure


July 12 Pretty Sporty

July 13 NewsFlow

July 13 Brisbane Times


Public Outcry through Social Media The closure of the WAIS program has been a hot topic on social media. The posts are coming thick and fast and support streaming through from all corners of the globe.



Before WAIS Story

During WAIS Story

27/6- 11/7

11/7- 24/7

2828 32253 1552

3083 188724 12782

1173 548

1255 1729

FACEBOOK Page Likes Posts Total Reach Page Engaged Users

INSTAGRAM Page Followers Posts Engagement

…hits on GWA social media activity sky rocketed!


Key Government and Industry Bodies Other industry bodies, including key sporting organisations are showing how much they care and support the WAIS WAG program. This includes: • Australian Commonwealth Games Association • Confederation of Australian Sport • Australian Womensport and Recreation Association • Diving Australia • Olympic Winter Institute of Australia • Sydney University

Australia's Olympic committee has decried the imminent closure of one of the nation's few premier gymnastics programs, saying it risks robbing sports of elite talent. Samantha Lane, Sydney Morning Herald, 2016

The Australian Commonwealth Games Association is both shocked and disappointed with this decision, particularly in light of the strong likelihood that Western Australian gymnasts would have been major contributors to medal results in the 2018 when Australia hosts the Commonwealth Game on the Gold Coast. The likelihood of this now occurring is seriously compromised.”

Craig Phillips, Australian Commonwealth Games Assocationt


A time for action


OUR REQUEST FOR ACTION The decision to close the program was made without sufficient consultation and no warning. It is a backward step for sport in Western Australia and Australia. We urge you as an advocate of women’s sport to take action to correct this fundamental wrong.

In writing this submission, we seek your assistance in achieving four key outcomes:



Your intervention to overturn this decision. That the program be reinstated by WAIS with the required funding support.


That copies of the documentation presented to the WAIS Board as evidence resulting in the closure of the program be made available to GA and GWA.


An opportunity to present GA’s case to the WAIS Board to assist in their understanding of this matter.




I won't just survive Oh, you will see me thrive Can't write my story I'm beyond the archetype

When the fire's at my feet again And the vultures all start circling They're whispering, "You're out of time� But still I rise

I won't just conform No matter how you shake my core 'Cause my roots they run deep, oh

This is no mistake, no accident When you think the final nail is in Think again Don't be surprised I will still rise.

Oh, ye of so little faith Don't doubt it, don't doubt it Victory is in my veins I know it, I know it And I will not negotiate I'll fight it, I'll fight it I will transform

2016 Rio Olympic Anthem, Katy Perry


WAG HP Program Presentation_Reinstate the WAIS Program  
WAG HP Program Presentation_Reinstate the WAIS Program