May 21, 2015 – 12:31AM
Of the ASC’s seven voting directors and eight members in total, only one – Alisa Camplin – is female.
Photo: Anthony Johnson
The Australian Sports Commission finds itself in the unfortunate position – even if temporarily – of failing to meet the same women-on-boards target it has mandated for national sports bodies.
As part of a much-publicised gender equity plan, the ASC says 40 per cent of directors’ positions on sports boards should be filled by women. Yet on a soon-to-be transformed board that, as it stands, has seven voting directors and eight members in total, only one – former Winter Olympic champion Alisa Camplin – is female, and her term to help steer the ASC is set to expire next month.
The office of federal health and sport minister, Sussan Ley, informed Fairfax Media on Wednesday that five new candidates for the ASC board have already been approached and are expected to soon be approved by cabinet.
In a written statement, Ley said the majority of those appointments would be women, and that a number of new directors would be announced “in the next few weeks”.
“It’s important we have a board that has a variety of skills and experiences inside and outside of sport to ensure the Australian Sports Commission continues to provide the strongest leadership possible and these new appointments will continue to uphold this,” Ley said in the statement.
The body responsible for managing the direction and funding of Australian sport, the ASC has threatened financial sanctions for non-compliance with its mandatory governance principles. Its chairman John Wylie has also publicly criticised sports that have been slow to promote women directors.
Wylie told Fairfax Media on Wednesday that the gender imbalance on his own board presently was a “temporary timing issue” he was confident would be rectified by midyear.
“We remain committed to the 40 per cent target and we’re happy to be judged by the same governance principles that we set for the sports. We’ve got a timing issue at the moment, but it’s a timing issue. It’s not a structural issue, I can promise you that,” Wylie said.
“I think it’s a fact of life that, from time to time with government appointments they take longer than what’s anticipated originally. But this is a temporary issue.”
Since the change of federal government in 2013, four women have come off the ASC’s board. In September 2013, the ASC board mix was 5-6 (female-male).
There are two vacancies on the ASC board presently, and the terms of five of the existing seven voting directors – that of Wylie, Camplin, Andrew Plympton, John Lee and Ken Ryan – are due to expire later this year. Ley has the authority to extend the tenure of any director in this case.
Recent departures from the ASC board are David Gallop, Andrew Fraser and Margy Osmond.
Earlier this month the ASC told Fairfax Media that female representation on sports boards had risen from a 27 per cent average to a 36 per cent average since its governance principles became mandatory in March 2013.
The ASC described this as “significant improvement” but added “further progress is still required to meet the 40 per cent target”.
While, purely on paper, the current composition of the ASC board looks awkward for the body that has consistently advocated for more women joining the sporting hierarchy nationally in recent years, all directors appointments are made by the government of the day.
Fairfax Media reported this month that the majority of Australia’s top government-funded sports had failed to meet the women-on-boards target set by the ASC three years ago.
The Australian Paralympic Committee is the most glaring example with just 11 per cent female director representation. Also failing to meet the 40 per cent target on the ASC’s last count was Australian Canoeing (38 per cent), Basketball Australia (29 per cent), Cycling Australia (25 per cent), Football Federation Australia (22 per cent), Swimming Australia (22 per cent), Rowing Australia (33 per cent), Water Polo Australia (38 per cent) and Yachting Australia (33 per cent).
“We are prepared to impose sanctions if we feel that sports are not addressing the totality of the mandatory governance principles in an appropriate way. But equally, it’s not all stick and no carrot,” Wylie said on Wednesday.
“We are willing to work with, and encourage, sports that are moving in the right direction and we feel that has been overwhelmingly the case since we introduced the mandatory governance principles.”