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Netball Australia CEO steps down

Kate Palmer (far right) Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Netball Australia will enter a new era without one of its most influential figures after chief executive Kate Palmer announced she will be stepping down from her role.

Palmer will leave the organisation on December 23 as the sport prepares for a new eight-team national competition Super Netball, starting in February.

During Palmer's 10-year reign, revenue has grown from $6 million to $26 million, with the game still the highest participation sport for women in Australia.

Importantly, more of the country's elite netballers can now become professional.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement for the Super Netball competition, the average salary for netballers will rise from about $40,000 to $67,500, and the minimum wage more than doubles to $27,375.

The new league also secured a five-year broadcast deal with Channel Nine and Telstra.

Former Diamonds captain Liz Ellis saw first hand how influential Palmer had been in transforming the sport.

"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", Ellis said.

"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 never been afraid of change, and in fact has been a brilliant change agent for netball."

Under Palmer's watch, netball has seen the start and finish of the trans-Tasman Championship, as well as the move into Super Netball.

The successful staging of the Fast5 event in Melbourne, and the continued growth of the mass participatn event Netfest on the Gold Coast have been other projects Palmer has been proud to oversee.

"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," Palmer said.

"It's a sport that connects us and builds lifelong friendships, and that's ultimately what's important."

Palmer advised the board several months ago that she intended to step down following her 10-year anniversary, which fell last week.

Deputy chief executive Marne Fechner will step in as acting chief executive when Palmer steps down next month, with the board expected to make a permanent appointment early next year.