The history of the Department

DSR is a small agency capable of adapting rapidly to change.

The Department has evolved considerably during its 50 years and had many different names since its genesis in 1939, when we had a staff of two, used some borrowed furniture and a typewriter of doubtful pedigree.

Over the years we have been known as: 

  • 1939 National Fitness Council
  • 1973 Community Recreation Council
  • 1979 Department for Youth, Sport and Recreation
  • 1985 Department for Sport and Recreation
  • 1990 Ministry of Sport and Recreation
  • 2000 Sport and Recreation Way2Go
  • 2001 Department of Sport and Recreation.

Traditions maintained

Despite the various guises, the Department has maintained a strong tradition of:

  • Emphasising physical activity, health and recreation
  • Community education and development
  • Leader training.

Unlike some other government departments, we have emerged from a total service background and we maintain this emphasis. 

1939 Western Australian Council of Physical Fitness

The National Fitness movement in Australia emerged from a need to prepare Australians to fight in the Second World War. Following meetings of the National Coordinating Council for Physical Fitness, the Western Australian Council of Physical Fitness was formed as an incorporated body on 26 September 1939.

1940 National Fitness Council

The Western Australian Council of Physical Fitness was incorporated as the National Fitness Council on 19 February 1940. The Council operated under the chairmanship of the Minister for Health, Alexander Panton. In January 1944 the Premier disbanded the council and appointed a new council on the 23 March 1944 under the portfolio of the Minister for Education, John Tonkin. Due to limited funding the National Fitness Council depended heavily on voluntary workers and a series of committees.

The Council was confirmed as a statutory body by The National Fitness Act of Western Australia 1945. Its objectives were to coordinate and expand services and organisations concerned with physical fitness in Western Australia and to promote the value of physical fitness and cooperate with local authorities in provision of recreational and training facilities.

What began as a scheme to promote community physical fitness soon began concentrating on the 14 - 21 age group.

1973 Community Recreation Council

In 1973 the National Fitness Council merged with the Youth Council to form the Youth, Community and National Fitness Council. The Councils were amalgamated to eliminate the duplication of services provided.

At the inaugural meeting the first decision was to shorten the title of the Council to the Community Recreation Council.

During the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s changing lifestyles had focused attention on recreation provision. The new council was given the power to promote co-operation in recreational matters between various community organizations, including local government. 

1979 Department for Youth, Sport and Recreation

In 1978 the Youth, Sport and Recreation Act was passed. The Community Recreation Council transitioned from a statutory authority to a government department: the Department for Youth, Sport and Recreation under the portfolio of the Minister for Education, Cultural Affairs and Recreation. 

1985 Department for Sport and Recreation

In 1983 the Youth Task Force recommended the formation of the Youth Affairs Bureau which came into being in 1985 and consequently the Department became the Department for Sport and Recreation.

1989 Ministry of Sport and Recreation

Following a review of the structure of sport in WA the role of the Department of Sport was upgraded to become the Ministry of Sport and Recreation.  

In late 1998 a strategic review of the Ministry was made which resulted in a restructure of the organisation. 

The following divisions were established:

  • Sport and Recreation Services
  • Strategic Policy, Planning and Research
  • Regions and Facilities
  • Business Management.

Also under the review, the functions of Sport International WA and the Recreation Camps and Reserves Board were transferred to the Ministry. The Western Australian Boxing Commission had come under the Ministry's control in 1989.

2000 Sport and Recreation Way2Go

In 2000, the Ministry operated as Sport and Recreation WA using the brand name Sport and Recreation Way2Go. 

2001 Department of Sport and Recreation

With a change in government in 2001, the Ministry reverted to its former name of the Department of Sport and Recreation.