Netball Australia Chief Executive Kate Palmer steps down after ten years

Netball Australia Launch Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer

After a decade at the helm of Netball Australia, Kate Palmer has decided to take a well-earned break and will officially finish her role as Chief Executive on 23 December.

Palmer advised the Board and Executive team several months ago that she intended to step down following her ten year anniversary, which fell last week.

She leaves the organisation in outstanding shape, on the eve of its new national league – Suncorp Super Netball – and with netball remaining the highest participation sport for women, despite strong competition from other codes who are growing their footprint in the women’s space.

“It has been an honour to have worked for netball. I am very proud of this organisation and our sport. It has so much to offer and allows each of us to contribute our strengths”, reflected Palmer.

“I am also proud of my achievements during my tenure as Chief Executive. This would not have been possible without the leadership, support and guidance of the Board or the dedication of our staff”.

When Palmer took on the role in 2006, Netball Australia faced significant governance challenges and had limited commercial assets that impacted the sport’s sustainability. 

A decade later and the business has grown revenue from $6 million to $26 million, with Netball Australia now recognised as a well governed and managed organisation.  The Diamonds are recognised as one of Australia’s leading sports teams, and participation is flourishing at all levels of the game.

“When I first took on the role, Noeleen Dix (then Netball Australia Chair) handed me a list of goals that were critical for the growth of the game”, recalled Palmer.

“Over the course of those 10 years, we have delivered on both commercial and participation outcomes.  Marne Fechner (Deputy CEO) and Anne-Marie Phippard (Head of Community Strategy and Netball Development) have been by my side the entire time.  We have made a great team”.

“One of the great challenges has been balancing the emphasis on high performance and winning milestone events, while also ensuring that every little girl in the country can play the game and be the best they can be.  It’s a sport that connects us and builds lifelong friendships, and that’s ultimately what’s important.

“Our State and Territory organisations have been critical to netball’s success. I admire the work they do for our community and for the sport”.

Anne-Marie Corboy, Netball Australia Chair, said that “Kate has led Netball Australia with distinction. Her appreciation of the importance of the community aspect of netball together with winning at the highest level is an outstanding characteristic. Being a change agent always brings challenges and Kate has never shied away from that. She has shaped Netball Australia and as she leaves, the organisation is extremely well placed for the future.” 

When Palmer commenced her tenure, Liz Ellis was captain of the Australian team. She continues to be one of the sport’s most popular ambassadors and has enjoyed a great relationship with Palmer.

“Netball was always talked about as the ‘sleeping giant’ and in the last decade Kate Palmer has, using a process of gentle shaking and persuasive talking through to outright kicking, woken it”, stated Ellis.

“Under her leadership huge change has occurred. Most notably from my point of view, elite players have moved from being poorly recompensed and undervalued to being some of the best paid, and most highly valued, female athletes in the country.  Kate has been willing to engage with players both past and present to harness our knowledge and energy to move the sport to where it sits now. 

“Kate has never been afraid of change, and in fact has been a brilliant change agent for netball.  Under her we have seen the start and finish of the ANZ Championship, and the move into Suncorp Super Netball, as well as the successful staging of the recent Fast5 event in Melbourne and the continued growth of the mass participant event, NetFest on the Gold Coast”.

Kate Palmer’s time at Netball Australia

2006 – Appointed CEO of Netball Australia

2006 – Re-locates office from Sydney to Melbourne

2006 – Launches NetSetGO, Netball Australia’s introductory netball program for 5-10 year olds

2007 – Australia wins World Championship title against New Zealand (Auckland)

2008 – Trans-Tasman Netball League (ANZ Championship) launched in partnership with Netball New Zealand

2008 – Launches Australian Diamonds brand, together with Liz Ellis Diamond and Australian Netball Hall of Fame

2009 – Secures free-to-air broadcast partner (One HD)

2010 – Establishes Constellation Cup in partnership with Netball New Zealand

2011 – Australia wins World Championship title against New Zealand (Singapore)

2011 – Wins bid to host Netball World Cup in Sydney

2011 – Launches NetFest, Netball Australia’s mass participation event on the Gold Coast

2012 – Purchases home for Netball in Fitzroy

2013 – Launches One Netball

2015 – Australia defends World Championship title at the re-branded Netball World Cup (Sydney)

2016 – Announces broadcast partnership with Nine and Telstra; three new clubs; record pay deal for athletes; and Suncorp Super Netball

2016 – Launches Fast5 participation product and hosts Fast5 Netball World Series

Palmer’s last day in the Chief Executive seat will be on 23 December.  Deputy Chief Executive Marne Fechner will then step in as Acting CEO while the Board works through a recruitment process over the coming months.