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Sport stars and specialists join women leadership programs

19 May 2021

Olympic gold medallists, world champions and specialists preparing for the Tokyo Games are among 33 women selected to participate in two professional development programs with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), designed to increase the representation of women across all roles in Australian sport.

Olympic gold medallists Sally Pearson (athletics) and Juliet Haslam (hockey), retired tennis champion Casey Dellacqua, multiple lawn bowls world champion Karen Murphy and former Australian Matildas footballer Michelle Heyman are among the 17 women who will be part of the inaugural AIS Accelerate Program, which aims to increase career pathway options in sport for women athletes.

Sixteen women have also been selected for the AIS Talent Program, this year focused on advancing the professional development of women in sport across science, technology, engineering and medical disciplines.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Minister for Sport, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, congratulated the successful recipients of both programs, which are funded by the Australian Government’s Office for Women and supported by Sport Australia.

“It is fitting this announcement is occurring in National Careers Week because these AIS programs show the impressive diversity of career options available to women in sport and other industries,” Minister Payne said.

“Australia is a strong believer in the capacity of sport to empower women and girls and the recipients of these programs can continue to work in the industry they love beyond their competitive years,”

“The programs also align strongly with the Australian Government’s broader strategy of increasing gender equity in STEM education and careers. In the AIS Talent Program alone, we have sport doctors, physiotherapists, engineers, biomechanists, physiologists and nutritionists, just to name a few of the professions.”

The AIS Accelerate program has been launched this year to support women athletes to progress their leadership skills in sport well beyond their athletic careers.

AIS CEO Peter Conde said: “The participants in these programs span across 17 different sports, including Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth Games and professional sport. Some hold positions at state institutes and academies. These programs and the women participating can be a catalyst for change across Australian sport.”

Sally Pearson and Casey Dellacqua welcomed the new AIS Athlete Accelerate program, which will commence 1 June.

“It’s great to be involved in the AIS Accelerate Program and learn and talk with other women athletes about their experiences in transitioning to professional careers in sport,” said Sally.

“Women athletes have a lot to offer to sport beyond their achievements on the track, court or pool. It will only benefit sport by leveraging their experience and talent in leadership roles.”

Casey added: “Athletes have so many transferable skills and I’m really looking forward to working with and learning from the diverse group of athletes who have been selected for the AIS Accelerate Program.

“I think it’s important that women are represented and given opportunities to be in leadership positions in sport. As I want to continue to be a leader in my sport, it’s great to have these pathways to keep growing and keep learning.”

The AIS Talent program has commenced at the AIS in Canberra this week, with the first of three three-day educational sessions. This will be complemented by online learning and support networks.

AIS Talent Program participant and Chief Medical Officer of Paralympics Australia Dr Rachel Harris said: “It is an incredible opportunity to learn more about ourselves as leaders, and in turn to further foster our leadership aspirations. It is also an honour to be a part of such an incredible group of women, creating networks, and through these connections, I envisage us continuing to support each other in the future.”

The AIS Talent and AIS Athlete Accelerate Programs are two key initiatives focused on high performance sport as part of the WLIS program. WLIS is focused on helping women reach their leadership potential in sport, with $3.4m over four years provided by the Australian Government.

Learn more about the AIS Athlete Accelerate and AIS Talent Programs here.

Program participants

Athlete Accelerate Program

Nicola Barr AFLW NSW
Jocelyn Bartram* Hockey WA

Sarah Cook OLY

Rowing ACT
Casey Dellacqua OLY Tennis NSW
Jessica Grimwood Surfing NSW
Juliet Haslam Hockey SA
Michelle Heyman Football ACT
Sharon Jarvis Equestrian Para-athlete WA
Amanda Jane Jennings* Paddle Para-athlete QLD
Meg Lemon* Cycling Para-athlete SA

Karen Murphy AM

Bowls NSW
Georgia Nesbitt* Rowing TAS
Erin Osborne Cricket NSW
Janelle Pallister Swimming Aus Qld
Emily Petricola Cycling Para-athlete QLD

Sally Pearson OAM

Athletics QLD
Pip Taylor Triathlon NSW

Talent Program

Dr Alison Alcock Biomechanics Equestrian Australia ACT
Dr Nicola Bullock Physiology Paddle AUS QLD
Jessica Corones Performance Analysis Swimming Australia QLD
Dr Kristine Dun Psychology ACTAS ACT
Dr Rachel Harris Medicine Paralympics Australia WA
Sara Hasani Physiotherapy AFL VIC
Dr Philippa Inge Medicine Cricket Australia VIC
Benita Lalor Dietician Australian Sailing NSW
Dr Jill Leckey Performance Nutrition AusCycling SA
Dr Amy Lewis Performance Science and -Mechanical Engineering QAS QLD
Kate Mahony Physiotherapy NSWIS NSW
Tamara Martens Performance Analysis NSWIS NSW
Dr Emma Millet Biomechanics Athletics Australia NSW
Kate Moore Physiotherapy Water Polo Australia TAS
Victoria Moore Physiotherapy Athletics Australia VIC
Dr Melanie Omizzolo Physiotherapy Tennis Australia VIC
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