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Motion - Little Athletics Tasmania

Tuesday 23 August 2022, Motion

[11.31 a.m.]

Ms PALMER (Rosevears) - Mr President, I move -

That the Legislative Council -

(1) Notes the importance Little Athletics and similar organisations play in the social, physical and mental wellbeing of Tasmanian children.

(2) Notes the grounding Little Athletics has given to Tasmanian athletes who have gone on to represent Tasmania and Australia on the national and international stage.

(3) Acknowledges the significant role volunteers play within such organisations.

(4) Notes the overall positive contribution such organisations make to the fabric of the Tasmanian society.

[11.41 a.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I rise to support the motion from the member for Rosevears. I will keep it very short.

I found it very interesting when I was reading about how Little Athletics evolved. In 1963, three boys turned up at an athletics meeting in Geelong ready to compete. When approaching an official, they were told that they were too young to take part. That official was Trevor Billingham, and the disappointment evident in the boys left a marked impression on his mind. The thought was forgotten, but it came alive again several months later at a coaching clinic designed for secondary school students where it was noted that the majority of children were primary school age. It reminded him of his earlier experience and he had an idea. The answer to the need expressed in the children would be a simple Saturday morning competition. On the first Saturday of October 1964, he met with a small group of children on a Geelong oval and they took part in a short program of running events. From that simple beginning, athletics for under-12 boys and girls developed at a phenomenal rate.

Little Athletics created tremendous interest and competition commenced in Tasmania in Launceston in 1973. It is absolutely wonderful. I also have been involved in Little Athletics. My two boys who were involved are now over 40 years old, so it was a long time ago. The children are always ready and saying, 'Come on, Mum, we are going to be late. Where are you?' Often, Mum and Dad are not quite as keen on a Saturday morning but the children are always keen.

In my role as an Independent Person with police, for example, I see that a lot of those children do not have those opportunities that we give to the children who go to Little Athletics with Mum and Dad. It is a social gathering as well as getting together. They do their personal bests. It does not matter whether they come last or they come first, they think they have done really well. They are in different groups, and they get together with their friends. It is absolutely amazing, as are the volunteers.

Every so often, I go to different meets and you see the volunteers - they are mums and dads. They are people like our member for Rosevears, who volunteers quite regularly, I am sure. They put in the time, they are all there for the children. While the children probably do not think much of it when they are there - they just expect it ‑ as they grow older and do it themselves, it is something that stays with them. As the member for Nelson said, where would we be without our volunteers? Where would these children be without that start that they have had - the comradeship? Some of them go on to wonderful things. I have a couple of friends who have been involved. Sadly, one has now passed away, but his wife is still there. From Little Athletics, they were chosen to work at the Olympics.

It can really move on and it is fabulous to see some of these things we take for granted. We see it happening, but we forget that it takes people to organise it. It takes volunteers and mums and dads to get the children there, and it takes perseverance. I am sure on a Saturday morning, many mums and dads can think of better things they would rather do, but they put their children first and they get there and they volunteer. Even if they are not volunteering, they are turning up and taking the children.

I thank the member for bringing it up and reminding us of some of these things in our community that we do take for granted. It is fabulous and I commend everyone that takes their children along, and the volunteers and the work of all our Little Athletics around the state.


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