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Office of Sport

Level the Playing Field Program

The NSW Government has committed up to $30 million to the Level the Playing Field Program (the Program). The Program investment will revive sport facilities by providing new or upgrading existing sport facilities, amenities and sporting fields. Funding will also support the provision of new and upgraded lighting that will enable more women and girls to train and compete in sport in a safe and inclusive environment.

Important dates

  • Applications open – Monday 16 October 2023
  • Applications closed – 1pm, Thursday 30 November 2023
  • Outcomes advised – Mid March 2024 onwards
  • Funding agreements executed for successful projects – within 3 months of notification of a successful application
  • Approved Equitable Access and Usage Policy must be submitted by 30 June 2024
  • Construction should commence by 30 September 2024.
  • Projects must be completed by 30 September 2026

Key objectives

The primary objectives of the Program are to:

  • Ensure women and girls have equitable access to sport and recreation facilities.
  • Foster positive sport and recreation participation experiences for women and girls.
  • Increase utilisation of sport and recreation facilities by women and girls.

In addition, the Program also seeks to:

  • Increase utilisation of sport and recreation facilities for people with disability, First Nations peoples, LGBTQIA+ people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
  • Incorporate environmental sustainability and climate resiliency into design, construction, and operation.

Funding availability

  • The Program is for the capital cost of a project only. Applicants are responsible for project administration costs, non-fixed or movable equipment and the ongoing operation of the facility.
  • The grant amount requested by an applicant must be a minimum of $200,000 and cannot exceed $2,000,000.
  • All applications from government agencies (eg: Councils) are required to provide a minimum 50% financial co-contribution of the grant amount requested (e.g., if an applicant’s grant amount requested is $200,000, they should demonstrate at least a $100,000 financial co-contribution, therefore the total project cost including any contingency or escalation costs will be $300,000).
  • Applicants that are required to and cannot meet the funding co-contribution expectation may apply for financial hardship. A financial hardship application provides applicants the opportunity to outline why they should be exempt from the requirement to provide a minimum 50% financial co-contribution of the grant amount requested. Financial hardship applications are to be made as part of the application process.
  • For non-government organisations where a financial co-contribution is not required (eg: not-for-profit organisations) applicants who are able to make a partial financial co-contribution will be looked upon more favourably during the merit assessment process.
  • Financial hardship may be granted where a project is located in a disadvantaged area of NSW and/or is recovering from a significant natural disaster or other exceptional circumstances. The Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA), published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), will provide a guide in measuring disadvantage.
  • All successful applicants must enter into a funding agreement with the Office of Sport. Grant payments will not be made until an executed funding agreement is in place and the Office of Sport will not be responsible for any project expenditure until this time.
  • Project construction should commence by 30 September 2024, and project construction must be completed by 30 September 2026. Funding approval may also have specific conditions that have been determined during the assessment process.

Equitable Access and Usage Policy

As part of the application for the Level the Playing Field Program applicants must commit to a Statement of Intent that gender equality is considered and prioritised in all current and future planning, policy, service delivery and practice as they relate to community sports infrastructure.

Applicants must also provide as part of their application an approved or draft Equitable Access and Usage Policy or existing relevant policies that address the aims of the Equitable Access and Usage Policy.  A supporting action plan is also required.  An approved Equitable Access and Usage Policy and action plan is required by 30 June 2024 to remain eligible for funding under the Level the Playing Field Program.

The Equitable Access and Usage Policy should align withexisting NSW Government, council and sport policies and plans covering gender equality and discrimination.

The Equitable Access and Usage Policy must demonstrate how councils and sporting organisations/clubs will effectively drive gender equitable access and use of community sports infrastructure to improve outcomes for women and girls. The action plan must address how the policy will be monitored and evaluated.

The Equitable Access and Usage Policy aims to:

  • eliminate gender inequality, ableism and cultural bias in sport infrastructure design and delivery,
  • provide equitable facility access to the best* facilities available,
  • ensure equity in the allocation for training and competition and address other elements of inequality in program design and delivery,
  • ensure all genders have the opportunity to fully participate in sport, be encouraged, welcomed, supported and rewarded.

(* best looks different for everyone. For some it may mean more family friendly or convenient training times, safe andprivate access to change facilities, cultural change to include women and girls in social events and on club committees, increased access to sports fields for training or scheduling of grand finals at a time suitable to allow spectator support).

Eligible applicants

  • Local government authorities in New South Wales1.
  • Regional Joint Organisations of councils, the Lord Howe Island Board and the Unincorporated Far West groups1.
  • NSW Office of Sport recognised NSW State Sporting Organisations (including National Sporting Organisations where the state body is part of a unitary governance model).
  • Incorporated, community-based, not-for-profit sporting organisations (clubs and associations whose primary purpose is to organise sporting activities/deliver sport programs).
  • Organisations providing sport and recreation programs that benefit the community, such as PCYCs, YMCA and YWCA.
  • Private enterprises (companies established under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), incorporated associations established under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW) or incorporated limited partnerships established under the Partnership Act 1892 (NSW)).

([1] Minimum 50% financial co-contribution of the grant amount requested is required.)

Ineligible applicants

Ineligible applicants are any organisation types not listed in the ‘eligible applicants’ section, and include (but are not limited to):

  • Individuals
  • Schools, TAFEs, and Universities
  • Parents and Citizens (P&C’s) Associations
  • Progress Associations
  • NSW Government agencies.
  • NSW Institute of Sport, Australian Sports Commission (incorporating the Australian Institute of Sport)
  • NSW Regional Academies of Sport 
  • Australian Universities with NSW campuses 
  • Other community based or religious groups that do not have a primary purpose of sport and/or recreation.

An eligible organisation will be deemed not eligible for funding under this program if they are an organisation named: (i) by the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse on its list of institutions that have not joined or signified their intent not to join the Scheme; or (ii) in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that has not yet joined the National Redress Scheme.

Eligible projects

Applications should be limited to:

  • Construction of new or upgrade of existing fields, courts or playing areas that deliver and can demonstrate increased training and competition and actual utilisation for women and girls.
  • Construction of new or upgraded universal designed* change rooms and/or shower, toilets and parent and child change areas or creche facilities.
  • Construction of new or upgraded lighting to fields, courts or playing areas that deliver and can demonstrate increased training and competition opportunities and actual utilisation and/or improve safety for women and girls.

The Program will prioritise facilities that demonstrate inclusive and accessible design, maximise women and girls’ sports participation and can demonstrate provision of equitable program content and scheduling for women and girls.

(* Universal Design  is about creating an inclusive society.  It helps everyone navigate their environment easily and makes them feel that they belong in that place.

Ineligible projects

The Program will not fund the following projects or project components:

  • Costs associated with preparing and submitting the application or feasibility, design, or development stages including feasibility studies, business cases and masterplans
  • Projects that do not meet relevant Australian Standards
  • Projects on private land unless there is clear public benefit to the community’s interest in sport and active recreation and have documented consent from the landowner
  • Facilities where little or no public access is available
  • Projects related to buying or upgrading non-fixed equipment (e.g., computers, office goods, sports equipment)
  • For the purchase or lease of land/facility
  • Related to administrative or operational expenditure which are normally the responsibility of businesses, state agencies or local councils
  • Administration costs with the exception of direct external / independent project management costs, limited to 10% of the grant amount requested
  • Retrospective funding, where projects have commenced construction or are completed prior to the execution of a funding agreement, or which could proceed without any NSW Government financial assistance
  • Projects that have already been funded by the NSW Government unless significant new project scope is identified
  • Arts, music, craft, and recreation facilities that provide experiences that do not meet the definition of sport and active recreation
  • General maintenance or replacement costs through normal wear and tear (e.g., painting, running costs and minor repairs to existing facilities)
  • Repair of facilities where the damage can be covered by insurance
  • Upgrading or redeveloping public toilet facilities, except as part of a larger project that meets the objectives of the Program
  • For the maintenance or construction of car parks.

Application process

  • See Eligible Applicants section of theses Guidelines to see which organisations can apply for funding.
  • If you are not eligible, you can partner with an eligible organisation, although they will need to be the applicant organisation and submit the application.

  • Before you apply, please read the Guidelines and supporting documents to make sure you understand all relevant requirements, including whether you are eligible to apply.
  • Provide approved Equitable Access and Usage Policy and associated Action plan; or provide a draft Equitable Access and Usage Policy and associated Action plan and state your minimum commitments (these minimum commitments must not be lessened in the final plan).
  • You can find comprehensive requirement information in the Guidelines.

  • Gather your evidence including letters of support, funding commitments, development approvals/exemptions, landowners’ consent, images/plans, quotes, participation data etc.
  • To submit a complying application all mandatory fields must be completed, and mandatory support documents must be uploaded and submitted.
  • SmartyGrants offers a tool, SmartyFile that allows organisations to collaborate with team members, pre-fill information into forms and manage, view, search and sort submissions across multiple funders in one spot. Applicants with an ABN can use this function.
  • For questions relating to the grants program or for specific assistance with the online system, email the Office of Sport Infrastructure Grants Team at or call 13 13 02 during standard office hours.

  • Applying for a grant is a simple process using the SmartyGrants platform.
  • The Office of Sport recommends that applicants familiarise themselves with the online application form ahead of completing the application. You can download a copy of the application form prior to commencing your application and plan ahead, being mindful of the closing date.
  • Complete your application by filling in each of the sections.
  • Upload all required supporting documentation.
  • Submit your application before the closing date and time.
  • Projects must be submitted through the SmartyGrants platform to be considered eligible.

Successful submissions will be issued with a SmartyGrants system generated acknowledgement email containing a PDF copy of the application which will confirm the time the application was submitted.

  • Late applications can only be considered where an applicant has started an application in SmartyGrants prior to the closing date/time.
  • If for some unforeseen reason you are not able to lodge your application on time, you must contact the Office of Sport at the earliest possible time.
  • A late application will only be considered where its acceptance would not compromise the integrity and competitiveness of the process. The final determination on whether a late application will be accepted will be made by the Grant Assessment Panel supported by a probity advisor.

  • If any document is not available prior to the closing date/time and you would like to submit this for consideration you must contact  
  • Any decision in relation to the acceptance of late supporting documentation will be at the absolute discretion of the Office of Sport.
  • Late supporting documentation will only be accepted for applications already submitted in SmartyGrants before the closing date and time and will only be considered where its acceptance would not compromise the integrity and competitiveness of the process.
  • The final determination on whether a late supporting documentation will be accepted will be made by the Grant Assessment Panel supported by a probity advisor.


Potential applicants are encouraged to review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to ensure that their application addresses the relevant requirements.

View the guidelines

Apply now

Community of Practice session

The Community of Practice session focused on supporting applicants in the development of their Equity Access and Usage Policy and Action Plan. Held on Thursday 2 November, it was an opportunity for collaboration and knowledge sharing. 
View presentation slides

Watch the presentation

Information session 1

Our first information session for Level the Playing field was held on Wednesday 25th October. The session was presented by Karen Jones, Chief Executive, Office of Sport and included a general overview of the program and Q&A.
Watch the webinar

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