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As the lead State Government agency for sport and recreation, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries accepts the following definitions of ‘sport’ and ‘active recreation’, as agreed to by all Australian State/Territory and Federal Governments within the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework

is defined as A human activity involving physical exertion and skill as the primary focus of the activity, with elements of competition where rules and patterns of behaviour governing the activity exist formally through organisations and is generally recognised as a sport.
Active recreation
is defined as activities engaged in for the purpose of relaxation, health and wellbeing or enjoyment with the primary activity requiring physical exertion, and the primary focus on human activity.


In June 2011, Ministers for sport and recreation across Australia committed to the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework. The framework provides a guide for the development of policies by all governments and is inclusive of definitions for ‘sport’ and ‘active recreation’. It is intended that coordinated strategies and initiatives that flow from the framework will lead to greater alignment of sport and active recreation funding and programs in pursuit of an improved sport and active recreation system. 


  • There is no formal or universal global definition of ‘sport’ and ‘active recreation’.
  • What is perceived as ‘sport’ and/or ‘active recreation’ in one instance may not be in another; sport and active recreation takes many forms and is constantly changing based upon societal norms, trends and new directions.


The lack of a universal definition of ‘sport’ and ‘active recreation’ presents challenges in how governments invest into sport and active recreation. For this purpose, the Department has accepted the definitions within the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework.

As societal norms change over time the definitions of ‘sport’ and ‘active recreation’ must be reviewed and remain contemporary.

In the case that an activity is perceived by a group to fit within the definition of ‘sport’ or ‘active recreation’, then an application seeking formal recognition can be made to the Department.  The Department has separate formal processes and criteria to determine:

  1. If the activity is recognised as a ‘sport’ or ‘active recreation’; and
  2. If an organisation is recognised as the peak body for that sport or active recreation in Western Australia. 


The Department utilises the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework and the definitions within, to guide the development of policies and invest into sport and recreation in Western Australia. 


Senior Policy Officer
Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries – Sport and Recreation
Telephone 61 8 6552 7300

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17 May 2016


01 February 2017

Page reviewed 11 September 2023