Gymnastics Australia Statement

30 July 2020

Over the last couple of weeks athletes have shared their personal experiences of gymnastics in Australia. Many of those experiences are quite simply not acceptable. They reinforce the need for more to be done to change the culture of gymnastics, so that our sport can be trusted, respected and celebrated.

In recent years we have made a lot of progress to improve policies, education and support mechanisms for our athletes across child safety, body positive guidelines and athlete-first and athlete-coach partnership thinking. We are committed to doing more.

Gymnastics Australia has requested, and the Australian Human Rights Commission has agreed to undertake independent review of our sport’s culture and practices. The Commission is an independent statutory organisation charged with protecting and promoting the human rights of all people in Australia, and has long recognised the important role that sport can play in furthering the promotion and protection of human rights.

The Commission’s independence ensures the integrity of the review and the commitment made by everyone at Gymnastics Australia, to genuinely listen and learn from our athletes and the gymnastics community. It also provides confidence to those who have more to contribute or who have not yet spoken, that their experiences will be heard by an independent team of professionals to inform future practice.

The review will build an understanding of the culture of gymnastics in Australia and any barriers there may be in reporting behaviours that go against what we stand for - zero tolerance of any form of abuse.

The Commission will facilitate a series of listening and focus groups, seek written submissions and conduct interviews with key stakeholders to understand athlete (both past and present) experiences within the sport.

The Commission will also review current policies and practices relating to the safety and wellbeing of athletes and the implementation and governance structures around those policies.

The option to be part of this process is open to all athletes, parents, coaches, staff, volunteers and administrators, providing the opportunity to raise issues or share experiences from either a national, state or club level. The Commission will soon embark on establishing the independent review and will advise on how to engage with the process. This advice will be published on the Commission’s website, humanrights.gov.au/gymnastics in the coming weeks.

The Commission is due to complete its review in the first quarter of 2021. A report with findings of the review as well as recommendations for changes will be published by the Commission.

While the Commission is undertaking the review, we will continue to implement key initiatives that are informed by constructive feedback received from a number of athletes over the past week and in the future.

The Foundation Course Advisory Group, consisting of four athletes with an interest in education, who have all recently shared their past experiences, are meeting for the first time this week. This athlete-driven group will develop an education framework based on the athlete-first and athlete-coach partnership philosophy which will be mandatory training for all coaches and judges from next year.

This education initiative builds on work undertaken in recent years where we have developed a stand-alone Child Safe Policy, released industry leading best practice Body Positive Guidelines and introduced mandatory child safe training for all technical members and key administrators.

With the support of the Australian Institute of Sport Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team, referral pathways will continue to the Mental Health Referral Network * as a priority for anyone seeking support through this process. This support mechanism is now available to alumni athletes and significant others as well as current athletes.
 
I thank everyone who has come forward to share their stories, and I thank those who are working with us to help build a positive culture for gymnastics in Australia.

Kitty Chiller
Chief Executive Officer
Gymnastics Australia

*AIS Mental Health Referral Network:
(02) 6214 1130 (Monday - Friday 9am-5pm AET)
mentalhealth@sportaus.gov.au)



Ends


For media enquiries


Gymnastics Australia - Kirrilee Torney – Senior Manager, Brand and Communications 0409 513 432
Australian Human Rights Commission - Georgia Waters – Media Advisor 0428 263 830