2019 National Census Report

by Bowls Australia on June 17, 2020

Bowls Australia (BA) has unveiled the 2019 National Bowls Census Report.

For the first time, the report has been constructed from participation data collated by the Regional Bowls Managers (RBMs) in detailed discussions with Clubs, rather than principally from the return of Club surveys.

Previously, Club surveys resulted in a response rate between 22% and 34%.

Due to the efforts of the RBMs, the response rate for this report has been lifted to 67%, and as such, BA believes that the data is even more reliable requiring less extrapolation of data for the missing Clubs.

The one exception is South Australia, where a lack of an RBM on the ground for a period in 2019 contributed to a lower response rate.

In many cases, the discussions that RBMs have had with their Clubs in gathering this data, has caused Clubs to pause for thought around their participation trends and examine what they might be able to do better to drive more traffic across their greens.

Some of the key highlights from the 2019 National Census Report include:

  • Overall participation of 693,563 – measured at four+ games per annum – an increase of 1.6%
  • A continued increase in social participation (2.6%) with a slower than recent trend decrease in formal competitive participation (-0.6%)
  • A large increase in the number of bowls experiences, i.e. the one-timers, to 1,260,121 – also partly a case of underreporting in previous reports, particularly in NSW. The 1.26M experiences are in addition to the 693K of semi-regular participants.
  • Formal membership (at 166,862) continues to decline but at a slower rate than previous years (-0.7%) – the decline has been slowed somewhat by the introduction of new membership options by Clubs and STAs (e.g. NightOwls members in SA).
  • The North Coast of NSW, Central Victoria and the Northern Territory (Darwin) all feature as the statistical areas with the highest participation, noting that the metropolitan areas are broken up into smaller geographical regions

The overall picture is encouraging in that participation in bowls continues to increase and offers further insight as to how our Clubs may be able to take advantage of the opportunity shifting nature of this increased participation.

  • Download a PDF copy here