Friday, 28 April 2023

Launch of Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport

As joint patrons of Sport SA, Rod and I are delighted to be with you tonight for the official opening of the Marjorie Jackson Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport.

Having such an exceptional, widely admired, and dearly loved sportswoman as Marjorie Jackson-Nelson lend her name and patronage to the Centre will, I am sure, make it a focus of inspiration for generations of female athletes, coaches, and officials to excel.

Despite her phenomenal success and public admiration, she has always remained humble; so much so that she always tells people: “Call me Marj.” And if that’s okay with you Marj, I will do so today.

By any measure of success, Marj has been a trailblazer for women’s sport -

- two Olympic Gold Medals at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, the first Australian woman to win an Olympic gold for track and field and the first Australian to do so on the running track since 1896

- and, to add to that, seven Commonwealth Games gold medals, 13 world records and myriad other awards.

Marj, it’s not surprising that, when you returned from the Helsinki Games, thousands turned out to line the streets in all the towns from Sydney to Lithgow to congratulate you.

In South Australia, we are proud that the woman who was famously known as the Lithgow Flash chose to make a home here in the 1950s with her South Australian born husband and fellow Olympian Peter Nelson.

After Peter’s untimely death in 1977, Marj became a driver of the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund, a valued contributor to the Commonwealth and Olympic Games movements and, of course, a distinguished and much-loved Governor.

Marj, we are proud that your drive, your commitment to sporting excellence and your championing of opportunity are at the heart of this new Centre.

I wholeheartedly support Sport SA’s aspiration for the Marjorie Jackson Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport to be a catalyst for more women and girls to play sport and take up leadership positions.

It is encouraging that we have seen breakthroughs in women’s sport during the past few years: for example, enthusiastic support of the Australian Football League Women’s teams and national and International Women’s Cricket.

Increasing numbers of female commentators are commentating alongside men on media desks in high profile sports such as cricket and football and demonstrating expertise and inciteful knowledge of the game.

As we have seen in the video, we are a State that has set firsts.

I am certainly looking forward to matches in the FIFA Women’s World Cup being played here in Adelaide soon. The first time this international competition has been held in Australasia. Go the Matildas!

The momentum of women’s sport is growing but big challenges remain, including in closing the gender pay gap.

As Sport SA points out:

24% of CEOs across 63 National Sporting Organisations are women.

Fewer than 10% of the coaches in our Olympic Team for Tokyo were women.

40% of sports participants are female, yet women’s sport receives only 4% of all sports coverage.

The Marjorie Jackson Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport will position South Australia as a national leader in women’s sport by developing women in all roles, including engaging more women in sport and developing leadership roles and, importantly, developing male leaders to be partners in gender equality.

I thank Sport SA, the working group and everyone involved for their commitment to creating this centre to not only be a focus, but a catalyst for advancing women’s sport.

I am honoured to shortly join with Marj and Minister Hildyard officially to declare the Centre open.

Coming events