What a pleasure it is to be here this morning, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Waranjuri people and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
To Judy Dalton, president of the Australian Fed Cup Foundation. And congratulations Judy on your induction into the Hall of Fame, you are a true pioneer for the sport that women play and for tennis in particular so thank you for what you’ve done through your lifetime for this sport.
I’d also like to acknowledge Steve Healy, the President of Tennis Australia . To Peter Johnston, the Managing Director of Asia Pacific Women’s Tennis Association. To Alisa Camplin, Chair of the Australian Sports Foundation and member of the Australian Sports Commission Board and to Ian Harrison, CEO of Australian Made. Ian, your sponsorship and support of tennis with a particular focus on young people is most welcome and your message is a powerful one to everyone in sport and I love seeing the Australian Made campaign coming together with Aussie Sport. It’s a great initiative.
I’d also like to acknowledge all the tennis stars in the room today, there’s so many of you. Alicia Molik, as the ambassador for Australian Made, but to all of you thank you for being the inspiration that you are for the next generation of young tennis players – both here in Australia and around the world. Congratulations on your 25th anniversary. I think this event is a great way to celebrate the achievements of women’s tennis but also particularly the achievements of the Fed Cup Team. And we should also acknowledge that it’s the 50th anniversary of the Fed Cup as well.
I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the importance of the Foundation’s work in running the Foundation Cup. I know it was last week in Sydney and commend your effort. It is a great way for 13 and under boys and girls to experience tennis. To get involved in a way that they can get a tangible sense of that pathway and the opportunity that the sport of tennis offers. It’s a great part of our system of Australian sport and I think it’s a very tangible example of the link between the participation base, the powerful grassroots of sport and what is brings to peoples’ live and the top end of the sport. Those heroes who do inspire that next generation and for young people to see and experience that pathway to greatness is a critical part of what keeps them motivated and excited about the game that they play.
And evidence of this is of course the Fed Cup has produced so many players including junior Wimbledon champions like Luke Saville and Hopman Cup player Jessica Moore and this visible pathway to success , I think, is particularly important to young women.
I’m part of the Gillard Government and proudly so and as a Government we are proud supporters of women’s sport and I was very pleased to be announce last year the establishment of a Women’s Sport Unit within the Australian Sports Commission with a focus on promoting both the commercialisation and the general promotion of the sport that women play. Successful Australian women, our tennis stars, are often the most admired and most visible of Australia’s female sports heroes and in this way I know everyone in this room understands the role the Australian Open plays and the sport of tennis plays in presenting these female heroes to our young girls right across the country and inspiring them to play sport.
I know many of you know this, I’m sure many of you have discussed it in this room at this event over many years. Of course, the Australian Open was one of the first tournaments to offer equal prize money and I think this equity principal is to be viewed and applied in this way across many of the facets of Australian sport. It is something that I certainly aspire to pursue as Minister for Sport in this country. Congratulations to the leadership that Tennis Australia has played over generations now. Leadership, the example that you set for other sports in pursuing these equity principles, is something that’s incredible valuable.
Finally, I’d like to say a few words about a grassroots initiatives of Tennis Australia. The Government is very proud to be supporting a new initiative with Tennis Australia to encourage our culturally diverse communities and particularly kids to get involved in the sport of tennis and on Australia Day this year Tennis Australia will be launching a pilot program to promote social inclusion and multiculturalism in our tennis clubs. The Australian Government has allocated $100,000 to help establish this program and in the spirit of promoting this a Citizenship Ceremony will be conducted prior to the Australian Open Women’s Final as well as other community events in clubs around Australia. It’s a great initiative by Tennis Australia and the Government is very pleased to be able to support it and these events capture the essence of tennis being part of our how we identify ourselves as Aussies. And how on Australia Day, in the middle of our summer, in the middle of the Australian Open, through citizenship ceremonies, through this effort to promote social inclusion what better platform than the sport of tennis and our community clubs to do this.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for what you have done for the sport of tennis . To Judy Dalton and your team, what a terrific event! I’m so pleased to be able to make it here this morning. Congratulations . Have a great experience at the Australia Open and thank you so much for being here today.