CHILDREN from low-income families will have their membership to local sporting clubs subsidised as part of a $20 million Greens initiative to boost participation in community sport.
A $10 million pilot program would see eligible clubs apply for subsidies, which would then be passed on to families struggling with the costs of junior sport.
The Greens also pledged a further $9.5 million to set up community sports libraries for children to hire out equipment, as well as $500,000 in assistance for volunteers at sporting clubs.
Speaking in Ballarat on Thursday, Greens health and sport spokesperson Richard Di Natale said increasing participation in community sport had numerous benefits.
He cited rising costs of equipment and joining fees as a reason for children in disadvantaged areas not participating in sport.
"Getting kids participating in sport is one way of trying to counter that growing problem of childhood obesity, which leads to all sorts of health problems down the track," he said.
"Not just that it's really important for social cohesion and for being more engaged in local communities. It teaches kids teamwork and respecting the umpire's decision."
The trials of each program would be run by the Australian Sports Commission, with a view to rolling them out on a national scale.
The direct subsidy of memberships through clubs was considered more effective than tax breaks, as The Greens felt they mainly benefited middle income families.
Dr Di Natale said there had been too much focus on elite sport and not enough on the community level.
"It's a question of investing in grassroots sport and making it a priority," he said.
With the potential for a change of government this Saturday, Dr Di Natale stopped short of saying the policy would form part of any negotiations with the Greens.
"I think the best way to do it is when you have the opportunity to speak about a particular piece of legislation that relates to it is to then work out how you can broaden it out to include this."