Gymnastics Australia (GA) has solidified its position as a leader in child safety with the launch of a new stand-alone Child Safe Policy (CSP) alongside a comprehensively reviewed and updated Member Protection Policy (MPP).
 
Both policies are the result of more than nine months consultation and review with key child safe industry partners. The Policies provide clear and comprehensive guidelines for the safety and wellbeing of children within the sport of gymnastics.
 
The two policies came into effect last week and have been supported by a Child Safe Commitment Statement co-signed by Gymnastics Australia CEO, Kitty Chiller AM and the Executive Directors of all eight GA Association Members.
 
Developing a stand-alone Child Safe Policy (that should be read in conjunction with the MPP), shows the great importance that GA places on ensuring it has a prioritised focus on child protection.
 
Ms Chiller said the introduction of the new policies highlights the ongoing national commitment from the leaders of Gymnastics in Australia to provide the safest possible environment for children to enjoy the sport at every level.
 
“I am extremely proud of the work we have put into reviewing and revising our Child Safe and Member Protection Policies, as the biggest beneficiaries of the new measures they implement, will be those at most risk in the community – our children,” Ms Chiller said.
 
“Our Child Safe Policy has been developed using a comprehensive consultation process that included experts in child safety, our state and territory associations, gymnastics industry experts and legal advisors.

"This whole-of-sport process ensures both policies can be adopted at all levels from National to Clubs. Importantly, the Child Safe Policy sets out a clear process for reporting complaints and provides a link to mandatory reporting and reportable conduct legislation Australia-wide. 
 
“Gymnastics’ national commitment to the safety, wellbeing and empowerment of all children accessing our programs and services is reflected in the Child Safe Commitment Statement signed by GA and the executive directors of our eight association members.
 
“I thank each of the executive directors for their unilateral support which shows we are committed to creating the safest environment possible for children and all members.”
 
The Child Safe Commitment Statement follows a similar statement signed early last year by the GA President and the Presidents of all state and territory associations.
 
This statement pledged to retain a prioritised focus on ensuring gymnastics remained a child safe environment. This commitment has led to mandatory child safe training for staff and technical members nationwide, the introduction of the new Child Safe and Member Protection Policies and a partnership with child safe advocacy group, Bravehearts

“Bravehearts is proud to be working with Gymnastics Australia in support of its initiatives to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all children and young people participating in Gymnastics throughout Australia,” said Bravehearts National Child Protection Training Manager, Mathew Sinclair.
 
“GA is working with Bravehearts as part of a significant commitment to the education and training of coaches and judges, club administrators as well as children and their parents/guardians.  This commitment is an invaluable step towards enriching the culture within Gymnastics in Australia to place the protection of children as the number one priority.  
 
“Bravehearts supports GA’s implementation of a policy specifically addressing child safety.  This policy, together with the comprehensive training and education plan will provide the necessary guidance for clubs and their members across Australia to participate in the sport of Gymnastics in a positive, safe and enjoyable manner. 
 
“Every sport has an obligation to keep children and young people safe from harm and Gymnastics Australia has set a clear standard to honour this obligation.”
 
National adoption of the two new policies will provide a truly integrated support network which has been welcomed by GA’s affiliated clubs.

General Manager and Head Coach at BTYC Gymnastics in Victoria, David Hunsdale welcomed the continued push by GA and its state and territory associations to make gymnastics the most child safe environment possible. 
 
“Gymnastics Australia has done a fantastic job in presenting clubs with a framework to adhere to that allows coaches to know what is expected, how to act, how to behave and how to coach in the best way,” Mr Hunsdale said.
 
“Children and families are getting full support in a very safe environment which is encouraging for everyone involved in the sport.”
 
While the Policies are essential, Ms Chiller says the next key step is ensuring all members and clubs understand them.

"In the coming weeks GA will launch a series of education modules to support and inform our 600-plus affiliated clubs and nearly 240,000 members nationwide," Ms Chiller said. 

"We need to make sure that everyone understands their rights and also the behaviours expected of all involved in the sport of gymnastics. Through online resources, including child-friendly versions, we will educate our community on the key changes within the new policies and how to ensure they are implemented at all levels of gymnastics." 
 
Gymnastics Australia’s new Child Safe Policy and Member Protection Policy are available via the organisation’s website and are located on a new, easy-to-find, dedicated child safe tab.

The full Child Safe Commitment Statement from the Gymnastics in Australia Executive Directors can be viewed HERE.