We exist to preserve and celebrate the history of Australian sport; and to inspire all Australians to achieve their potential both in sport and life.
Built around the inspirational words of our first Inductee and Legend, Sir Donald Bradman AC, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is determined to carry to Australians everywhere the symbol of excellence as represented by its 571 Members across all sports and genders.
Sport is a defining and dominant part of Australian social culture and in honouring the Member achievements, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame preserves, presents and shares this priceless sporting heritage as an inspiration to all Australians.
The message is a valuable one that emphasises the rich rewards in life that are offered by striving to attain the Sport Australia Hall of Fame values;
Courage • Sportsmanship • Integrity • Mateship • Persistence • Excellence, underpinned by Generosity • Modesty • Pride and Ambition
“When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his or her life with dignity, with integrity, courage and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition and competitiveness.”
Sir Donald Bradman speaking at his induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, 1985.
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame was first conceived in the mid 70’s by national Sports Administrator Garry Daly who through his passion for sport had the vision to establish a Hall of Fame across all sports to recognise and acknowledge our nation’s greatest sporting heroes. He set about researching Halls of Fame worldwide to develop a model for Australia. Garry’s vision was realised in 1985 when the Sport Australia Hall of Fame was established with him as its inaugural Chair.
On December 10, 1985, 120 Athlete Members, selected from over 400 nominated and researched athletes were officially inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame at the inaugural function in the Long Room at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Cricket Legend, Sir Donald Bradman was named the first Inductee with Swimming Legend Dawn Fraser the first female Inductee.
From 1985 up to 1989 only new Athlete Members were selected and inducted, however in 1989, to recognise those that play a supportive role i.e. Coaches, Administrators, Sports Science and Sports Media a new category, Associate Members (now General Members) was introduced. Each year, thereafter our greatest athletes and supportive official’s achievements have been recognised with their induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Membership into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is limited exclusively to the top echelon of athletes and those that play a supportive role. Selection by their peers is the pinnacle of achievement for Australian sportspeople. They have all achieved excellence at the highest level within their sport.
Garry Daly was the inaugural Chair of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame with Sir Hubert Opperman the first Selection Committee Chair (1983 – 1989), followed by Dawn Fraser (1989 – 1996) who also served as Chair of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Club. General Member Sir Donald Trescowthick was appointed Chair of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Trust (1996 – 1997). Throughout this period Garry Daly continued to manage the development of Sport Australia Hall of Fame until 1996 at which time 283 sports people had been inducted.
In 1996 under the leadership of Sir Donald Trescowthick a review and restructure of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame was undertaken resulting, from April 1997 a registered Limited Company, The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Ltd owned and controlled by its Members. Neale Fraser was appointed Chair leading a Board of Directors consisting of Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members and representatives from the Australian Olympic Committee, Sport Australia (formally Australian Sports Commission) and the Confederation of Australian Sport. In later years, three independent directors and an Ambassador were added to the Board.
A separate Selection Committee was appointed headed by Chair Robert de Castella with the responsibility for following strict selection criteria to ensure only the ‘best of the best’ are considered for induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Neale Fraser served as Chair of the Board from 1997 to 2005 when he was succeeded by John Bertrand who is currently still in office.
In 1993, at the initiative of Garry Daly the ‘Legend of Australian Sport’ category was introduced to more fully highlight and promote the achievements of our sporting champions. Legend status is conferred annually upon Members who have made a unique contribution to Australian sport and distinguished themselves at the highest level in sport. In doing so have offered inspiration and example to young Australians. The names of Members of this special group come to mind whenever the pinnacles of performance are discussed, leaving an indelible mark on the community and its history.
In 1998 ‘The Don’ Award, named in honour of our first Inductee Sir Donald Bradman was introduced. Bradman’s legendary inspiration to Australia as the ultimate example of sportsmanship makes him the ideal patron of an annual award to an Australian athlete, who has, through his or her example in sport, has most inspired the nation (in 2006 team sports were added for consideration). Sir Donald’s son John and Granddaughter Greta presents this award each year.
In 2002 the ‘Team Sport Australia’ Award was introduced to acknowledge teams which, by their achievements have contributed significantly to Australia’s reputation as a great sporting nation. Teams selected are not inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame but are recognised as part of our nations sporting history. In selecting Teams, it is not intended in determining eligibility that the whole of a national team (such as Olympic or Commonwealth Games) would be considered. Neither would the whole of a world championship team e.g. swimming, athletics, cycling etc. be considered.
In 2005 ‘The Spirit of Sport’ Award was introduced to acknowledge sporting performances that capture the hearts of the nation. The award is not meant to be an annual award but is given at the discretion of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Board for a performance/event that is very special and destined to be part of Australian sporting history.
In 2006 the Board introduced the ‘Scholarship and Mentoring Program’ seeking to inspire the next generation of young elite Australians to achieve their potential in both sport and life. This program aims to help young Australians to reach the highest level of their sport by providing financial funding and more importantly, unrivalled access to mentoring by Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members.
In 2007 ‘Hall of Fame Moments’ was introduced acknowledging that throughout our nation’s history there are many outstanding sporting moments that have collectively contributed a significant thread to the Australian sporting tapestry. Moments selected are not inducted but are ‘Enshrined’ into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is a not for profit organisation and relies on sponsorship for its income. Other than a grant from Sport Australia (formally Australian Sports Commission) it receives no Government support.
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is a founding partner in the Australian Sports Museum (formally National Sports Museum) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Officially opened in 2008, and a refresh and rebrand of the Museum in 2020, the Australian Sports Museum Sport Australia Hall of Fame exhibit includes honour plaques of all Members and a Legend wall featuring all Legends of Australian Sport. Annually new Inductees are invited to unveil their honour plaques on the day of their formal induction.