This week (28 August 2023), members of the 2023 South Australian Student Representative Council (SA SRC) launched their second campaign to address issues the SRC has identified through their collective experiences.  

‘Fitness for Free’ calls on the South Australian government to address rising youth mental ill health by improving access to recreation and leisure facilities for senior school students. 

SA SRC members behind the Fitness for Free campaign, are asking the state government to make access to fitness and leisure centres free for school students as a proactive approach to addressing the increasing levels of mental health conditions among young people, and citing studies which indicate a positive relationship between regular physical activity and mental wellbeing.  

The SRC is hoping the campaign will enable greater access to fitness facilities in general, thereby fostering greater social connection and more physical activity amongst young people. 

Elysia Parker, who is one of the Fitness for Free campaign organisers, explains why free access to fitness facilities is so important.  “I have autism and suffer from depression and anxiety. Going to the gym has saved my life, as it gives me something to look forward to everyday…The gym is one of my happy places, and since going I have been a lot happier in myself and been doing a lot better mentally.” 

For many young people the primary barrier to accessing these often-vital programs is cost: “There is a monthly membership at the gym I go to that gives me access to classes and equipment. The gym fee gets expensive, especially when the prices keep increasing, and we have to pay monthly.” 

South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly, is backing the campaign.  

“High School Students have been telling me that cost is a big barrier to their participation in physical activity that would otherwise help with their school/life balance. In fact, it was identified as one of the top five barriers preventing young people from spending their free time in the ways they would like.” 

To find out more about the Fitness for Free campaign, or to sign the petition go to:

To read the media release, click here.