Tighter KidSport rules a concern

Sophia Constantine and Liam CroyNorth West Telegraph

Port Hedland Netball Association is among many sporting clubs that fear WA children could miss out on club sport this year after the previous State government tightened KidSport eligibility rules.

KidSport provides vouchers worth up to $200 to families who would otherwise struggle to afford fees and equipment.

Since the program started in 2011, boys and girls aged five to 18 have been eligible for KidSport assistance if they were listed on a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card.

Port Hedland Netball Association president Tracey Swami said the club was worried about the impact the changes would have as the club had already had a few applications come through since the season started.

“We have had kids recommended to our club through the Youth Involvement Council in previous years and we are worried we won’t be able to take them in this year,” she said.

Last season, PHNA had a large number of members apply through KidSport, as well as 10 intakes from YIC.

“I can imagine this will have a massive impact across all sporting clubs.”

Department of Sport and Recreation chief executive Ron Alexander said demand for the vouchers had outstripped the program’s budget and the changes were designed to ensure they went to the most needy.

Mr Alexander said KidSport approvals in 2017 were higher than in the same period last year.

Until this year, they could also be endorsed for KidSport by a “referral agent” who believed sport would benefit them.

Referral agents were community leaders such as teachers, police officers, social workers and doctors. The referral agent system has been scrapped and replaced by “financial assessors” who must determine if families meet any of the four “financial exceptions”.

Those exceptions include the death or serious illness of a guardian, a natural disaster which causes significant financial impact, the placement of a child into care, and the sudden and involuntary loss of employment by the main earner without a redundancy payment.

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