New Commonwealth funding critical to protect Australian sport
Sport Integrity Australia CEO David Sharpe believes MYEFO funding of a two year pilot program for an independent complaints and disputes resolution model will allow the agency to effectively respond to escalating and shifting integrity threats across sport, in particular child safeguarding issues.
The Federal Government has announced $10 million in funding for the program commencing in 2021. This fast tracks the Government’s forward planned capability for Sport Integrity Australia with the profile and incidence of serious complaints evolving more rapidly than anticipated, requiring an accelerated response.
Mr Sharpe says the centrepiece of the program is the introduction of an independent complaints handling and dispute resolution process.
“The Commonwealth funding will allow the agency to directly assess and, if required, investigate serious and complex matters, correcting a flaw in the national sport integrity ecosystem which has seen too many matters dealt with inadequately,” Mr Sharpe says. “This has been amplified through the financial impact of COVID-19 which has left many sports under-resourced to deal with complex and emerging threats. We are here to protect sports and the importance of this program can’t be underestimated.”
National sporting organisations can sign up for the complaints and dispute resolution process provided they have fully adopted the National Integrity Framework (NIF).
Mr Sharpe said that it is critical that national sporting organisations take up the option of utilising the new model. “This will be an opt-in model for sports, if they have signed up for the NIF they will be able to formally raise their integrity-related complaint with Sport Integrity Australia in the first instance. The pilot program is designed to be cost-effective, streamlined and will ease the administrative burden on sports through dealing with these issues while ensuring that such issues are being dealt with consistently, fairly and independently.”
The assessment mechanisms in place will ensure the Commonwealth doesn’t become caught up in the low level matters while still providing complainants with confidence that disputes are being properly managed. This assessment includes indicators of a systemic problem within the sport, the complexity of the issue and the capability of the National Sporting Organisation or Sporting Administration Body to manage any investigation.
Mr Sharpe emphasises the funding will go towards addressing threats at all levels of sport, from the elite through to the grassroots while reiterating that only complex and serious matters would warrant direct investigation by Sport Integrity Australia.
“In partnership with the National Sports Tribunal we will be working with peak sporting bodies such as the Australian Olympic Committee, Paralympics Australia and Commonwealth Games Australia to ensure all sports can access this program. With the full support of these organisations we expect the vast majority of Australian sports to buy in to the new model.”