CONTENTSPurpose of the Sport Governance Principles2The startline6Principle 1: The spirit of the game—values-driven culture and behaviours8Principle 2: The team—aligned sport through collaborative governance10Principle 3: The gameplan—a clear vision that informs strategy12Principle 4: The players—a diverse board to enable considered decision-making14Principle 5: The rulebook—documents that outline duties, powers, roles and responsibilities16Principle 6: The playbook—board processes which ensure accountability and transparency18Principle 7: The defence—a system which protects the organisation20Principle 8: The best and fairest—a system for ensuring integrity22Principle 9: The scorecard—embedded systems of internal review to foster continuous improvement24The game is changing—contemporary and stable governance structures26Glossary and definitions of common governance terms281
PURPOSE OF THE SPORTGOVERNANCE PRINCIPLESUnderpinning the access to, and enjoyment of, sport is thecommitment and effort of sporting organisations acrossAustralia. In order to help these sporting organisations todeliver more positive sport experiences more regularly,we are pleased to release the updated Sport GovernancePrinciples. This document reflects the evolution of sportgovernance over the preceding decade.Sport is a key element of a cohesive and thriving nationalcommunity. It is a tool for achieving outcomes in areassuch as education, health, leadership developmentand fair play, and is unrivalled in its ability to link heart,mind and body, to connect individuals and to inspirecommunities. Increasingly, all sporting organisationsare being held accountable for their governance.Governance is not only relevant to large national sportingorganisations; it is important for all organisations in oursector. It is for this reason that these Sport GovernancePrinciples were co-designed through a whole-of-sectorengagement. The clear message throughout the codesign was that no matter the size or maturity of thesporting organisation, there was a need for educationaland accessible principles to help guide organisations togood governance. There was also a clear need for theSport Governance Principles to link to education, supportand resources to transition the theory into practice.2These principles can be used throughout the Australiansport sector, from small local clubs to large nationalorganisations, but the details and explanations tend tobe most applicable to national sporting organisationsand state/territory sporting organisations. Giventhe diversity of the sport sector, the language usedthroughout the principles might not align with or alwaysbe directly relevant to every sport and organisation. Alist of terms can be found in the Glossary, but it is worthhighlighting the interchangeable nature of some of thekey terms: ‘Board’ (aka, board of directors; committee ofmanagement, council, committee), ‘Director’ (aka, boardmember, committee member), and ‘CEO’ (aka, executivedirector, general manager). For organisations that donot have a CEO, some sections may be less relevantbut, equally, this role could be filled by directors or othervolunteers in the organisation.It is important to remember that good governance is neverstatic or fully achieved. As the leaders governing sport wehave an ongoing opportunity to change, to transform andto be better, but we need to be selfless, determined andfocused on our purpose. These are attributes we expectof our elite athletes. They are also the attributes we seein our volunteers, grassroots participants and supporters.These Sport Governance Principles seek to support thosewho govern sport to perform at a high standard as we lookto modernise and continually embed good governance insport in Australia. These principles, as well as a full list ofinteractive tools, resources and education, can be foundon the sport governance website.
The startlinePrinciple 1Principle 2This section providesa basic understandingof sport governanceThe spirit of the game—values-driven cultureand behavioursThe team—aligned sportthrough collaborativegovernanceGovernance is the system bywhich organisations are directedand controlled. It is the way inwhich expectations are madeclear and the culture of theorganisation is modelled.An organisation’s cultureand behaviours should beunderpinned by values whichare demonstrated by the boardand embedded in its decisionsand actions.Across a sport, boards shouldwork together to governcollaboratively and createalignment to maximise efficientuse of resources and implementwhole-of-sport plans.Principle 3Principle 4Principle 5The gameplan—a clear visionthat informs strategyThe board is responsiblefor overseeing the developmentof the organisation’s visionand strategy as well asdetermining what successlooks like.The players—a diverseboard to enable considereddecision-makingThe rulebook—documentsthat outline duties, powers,roles and responsibilitiesA board should be a diversegroup of people who, collectively,provide different perspectivesand experience to facilitate moreconsidered decision-making.An organisation should clearlydefine and document its structureand the duties, responsibilitiesand powers of members, directors,committees and management.Principle 6Principle 7Principle 8The playbook—board processeswhich ensure accountabilityand transparencyThe defence—a system whichprotects the organisationThe best and fairest—a system for ensuring integrityTo proactively protect theorganisation from harm, the boardensures the organisation has andmaintains robust and systematicprocesses for managing risk.An organisation should havemeasures and protocols to ensureintegrity of the sport and safeguardits participants.Principle 9The game is changingThe scorecard—embeddedsystems of internal review tofoster continuous improvementContemporary governancestructuresGlossary anddefinitionsThrough effective processes andcontinual review of its performance,the board is able to demonstrateaccountability and transparency toits members and stakeholders.The board must have anappropriate system of internalcontrols to enable it to monitorperformance, track progressagainst strategy and addressissues of concern.Sporting organisations shouldregularly consider how theirgovernance structuresallow them to best achieve theirpurpose and respond to thechallenges of a changingenvironment.Common governance termsSport Australia Standardsfor Funded NationalSporting Organisations.5
THE STARTLINEStepping onto the field for the first time is daunting for aparticipant. What is the purpose? What are the rules? Whois on my team? What is my position? What is the spirit ofthe game? Being a director or a CEO, no matter the sizeor complexity of the organisation, can raise the samequestions. This section provides a basic understanding ofsport governance and is complemented by the Glossary.What is governance? An internet search will bring upmany definitions of governance. These definitions areoften more confusing than helpful because of the amountof information and the complexity of the terminology.At its most basic, governance is the system by whichorganisations are directed and controlled. It is the wayin which expectations are made clear and the culture ofthe organisation is modelled. The following lists furtherclarify what governance is and is not.GOVERNANCE IS:GOVERNANCE IS NOT The ‘brain’—the thinking and monitoringpart of an organsiation The ‘body’—the doing and running ofan organisation Leadership in terms of purpose, strategyand values A recognition of long-term service to a sport The structures and processes fordecision-making in an organisation Ongoing, deliberate and proactive A set of checks and balances formanaging risks An organisation’s day-to-day andweek-to-week activities A secondary, sporadic thing to be done whentime permits A reactive process when things go wrong Box-ticking to receive funding A method for evaluating organisationalperformanceGood governance does not guarantee success; however, poor governance almost certainly guarantees failure. Much like acoach develops a training plan and goals for a team, governance helps set the purpose for an organisation, its vision and howit will get there. For a gameplan to be effective, it is important to know the objective, the rules, the team members, and theteam’s approach. The same applies in governance.6WHAT’S THE OBJECTIVE?WHAT ARE THE RULES?Governance is having the processes and systemsto enable good decision-making to help ourorganisation achieve its purpose. It is also aboutsetting and exemplifying our agreed values andbehaviours both individually and collectivley.When governing, we must follow a set of rules.These rules are determined by legislation and theconstitution agreed to by our members. The rulesinclude policies and procedures which outline whatwe can and cannot do.WHO’S ON THE TEAM?HOW’S IT PLAYED?Our governance team includes the board ofdirectors and, where there is one, the CEO, with thesupport of members. We all have different rolesto play including holding each other to account inachieving the best for the organisation. These rolesare described more on the next page.Our agreed values underpin our culture and guideour behaviours. Our culture is exemplified throughour trust in each other and the confidence thatcomes from the support of our teammates.
THE GOVERNANCE TEAMMEMBERSBOARD Who the organisation exists to serve The group of directors who hold ultimateresponsibility for the organisation in accordancewith the constitution Granted powers under the constitution Elect directors to the board and approve majorchanges to the organisation Makes decisions based on what is in the bestinterest of the organisation and its members Sets, approves, and is accountable for the visionand strategy of the organisationDIRECTORSCEO Individuals elected or appointed to serve onthe board An individual hired by the board to implement theorganisation’s strategy Have personal legal duties and responsibilitiesto the organisation Directs and oversees the day-to-day operationsof the organisation Come together to make decisions as the board Is repsonsible to the board and providesinformation to help the board monitor progressand make decisions Exemplifiy the moral, ethical and behaviouralexpectations of the organisation and all itsstakeholdersWHY IS SPORT DIFFERENT?Governance is a part of every organisation. So why do we need a specific set of principles for the governance of sport?The characteristics of sport which produce a different governance environment to that of the corporate or not-for-profitsector are outlined below.UNIQUE STRUCTURESLONG HISTORIES AND TRADITIONS There are often interdependent relationshipsbetween organisations within a sport Many organisations have long-standing traditionswhich can make change difficult Most commonly found in the federated model(national, state/territory, clubs) Sport is reliant on volunteers who fulfil multipleand often conflicting roles Traditionally in Australia, sport has grown fromwithin communities or the ground upPASSIONA VARIETY OF PURPOSES Even experienced directors can make decisionswith their heart rather than their head A single organisation can have many conflictingpriorities, with a tension between highperformance success and participation growth The desire for on field success can override goodgovernance practices Directors often have an emotional connection toand investment in the sport they are involved with For some sports, this includes considering itsrole as an entertainment or lifestyle product Sports have a broad range of stakeholders.7
PRINCIPLE 1THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME—VALUES-DRIVENCULTURE AND BEHAVIOURSAn organisation’s culture and behaviours should be underpinned by values whichare demonstrated by the board and embedded in its decisions and actions.QUESTIONS TO ASKBENEFITS As the leaders of our organisation, do wehave known, shared and agreed values whichunderpin our culture? There is a set of shared and agreed valuesthat encourages collaborative relationshipswith all stakeholders. How do our decisions and actions contribute tothe attainment of our purpose and reflect ourvalues and agreed behaviours? There is a culture of values-driven behaviour thatleads to better decisions being made at all levelsof the organisation. How do we lead our sport in values-basedbehaviour? The organisation is better able to attract andretain skilled people because of its culture. Do our values contribute to good governance bypromoting trust, confidence and collaboration? It is easier to assess and address whetheran individual’s behaviour is in line with theorganisation’s values and culture. Do I reflect on my own behaviour, the impact Ihave on others and the way decisions are made? How do we call out behaviour which goesagainst our values? There is decreased likelihood of misconduct.BEHAVIOURS, CULTURE AND VALUESGOVERNANCE AND THE ROLE OF THE BOARDPeople bring the policies and structures of governanceto life. While policies and structures are an importantpart of governance, they are only meaningful if they areimplemented, enacted and enforced by people within theorganisation. As such, governance occurs through thebehaviours and actions of individuals. For example, thiscould be a director reminding their peers at the start of ameeting to declare their conflicts of interest.Governance is impacted by culture. For example,a culture which fosters constructive communicationbetween directors leads to more considereddecision-making. Conversely, a passive or reactiveculture may mean directors do not consider alldecisions with the same level of rigour, leading toill-informed and ill-considered decisions.Individual behaviours are partly driven by culture; culturebeing an organisation’s shared values and beliefs. Valuesare intangible guides to how an individual is expected tobehave. A shared set of values, and the resulting culture,outlines what behaviours are and are not acceptable.Describing and measuring an organisation’s culturecan be difficult because of its abstract nature. Cultureis not the ticking of boxes; it is lived and breathed,and influences all aspects of an organisation.The relationship between behaviours, culture andgovernance is not simply one way. Governance, whileinfluenced by culture, also shapes culture. As theleaders of an organisation, a board and its directorscan influence culture and behaviours by defining andmodelling organisational values. This occurs in theway the board works with the CEO, represents theorganisation and makes decisions. Additionally,clearly articulated values provide an objective andshared reference point for discussing, assessingand challenging culture and behaviours.WHAT SHOULD OUR VALUES BE?There is no right answer, but they should reflectcurrent or changing societal expectations. Valuesshould be, and
Sport Governance Principles to link to education, support and resources to transition the theory into practice. These principles can be used throughout the Australian sport sector, from small local clubs to large national organisations, but the details and explanations tend to