Facts and figures for informed discussion!

Here are some facts and figures relating to the following;

  • Sport participation,
  • Open Space, Sports and Recreation Needs,
  • Bayside needs based on population,
  • Bayside revenue sources

ABS data on sport participation

Source: Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2013-14 (most recent data)

  • Walking for exercise has highest participation rate of any activity - 19.2%
  • Fitness and gym was second - 17.4%

Down the list we find ...

  • Australian Rules Football - 1.2%
  • Outdoor soccer - 2.4%
  • Outdoor cricket - 1.2%

Open Space, Sports and Recreation needs

According to this City of Sydney study (Open Space, Sports and Recreation needs 2016) at p 5 "NSW government guidelines combine to suggest a recommended average rate of provision is 1 sporting field per 5,600 residents."

How does Bayside compare?

Bayside has a population of 97,087 people which, on the above figures, suggests a need for 17 dedicated sports fields.

According to this Bayside City Council webpage, it currently has 45 sports ovals, including Elsternwick Park ovals 3 and 4 in their current incarnation.

One conclusion you might draw from the above is that open space for non-organised sport and recreation, especially walking, ought to be a priority, based on its high participation rate.

This is especially so in Bayside, given that, according to recent ABS figures, it has a disproportionately higher number of people aged 65 and over compared to both Victoria and Australian averages (e.g. 65-69 5.6% v 4.9% for Victoria). This age group is less likely to undertake organised sport and more likely to need to walk to keep fit. 

Moreover, Bayside has disproportionately fewer numbers in the age ranges between 20-39 who are more likely to participate in organised sport (e.g. 3.9% in the 25-29 range compared to 7.4% for Victoria as a whole), suggesting that upgrading existing ovals that already appear surplus to requirements is unnecessary.

Undoubtedly, in an age where physical activity is declining and childhood obesity rates unacceptably high, encouraging physical activity is essential. It is important, however, to understand that most activity occurs outside organised sport and areas must be set aside to cater for that.

It is important to realise, also, that more than a quarter of the Bayside population live in families (25968 people) with an average of 1.9 children, for whom casual recreation spaces are important. Many of those families have pets. 

According to a 2014 newspaper report, with 11,753 dogs and 4664 cats, Bayside is the largest pet-owning municipality, per capita, in Victoria. Pet registration fees in Bayside ($77 for a desexed dog) are higher than in nearby Stonnington ($59.50 for a dog), Booroondara ($58 for a dog) and Port Philip ($69 for a dog). Accordingly, Bayside received a hefty $1,120,000 in animal registration permit fees (see annual report at p 224) in 2016-2017. As an off-leash dog area Elsternwick park south is an important amenity to Bayside pet owners who justifiably argue for access based on a user-pays principle.

It's worth noting, too, that total rates and charges received by Bayside City Council in 2016-2017 were $85,518,000 (annual report at p 224) - rate-paying residents are entitled to a very big say in how their local amenities are used.

The above figures suggest that the interests of the majority of those rate-payers are not served by upgrading facilities for organised sport. Rather, those interests are much better served by maintaining existing access to areas, such as Elsternwick Park South, where the most frequent form of recreation is undertaken - walking for exercise.