CEO David Sharpe's Senate Estimates Statement
Sport in Australia and globally has reached a point whereby athletes are demanding strong leadership and transparent governance processes to deal with issues threatening the integrity of sport. Good governance incorporates principles of transparency and independence whilst addressing conflicts of interest at all levels of sport.
The Australian Human Rights Commission review of gymnastics is the wake-up call all sport in Australia needed.
Sport in Australia has now reached a moment in time where governments, sports administrators, athletes and the community must address the failings of the past together, whilst moving forward into the future with independent and transparent mechanisms to manage reporting of abuse.
Whilst we will never completely stamp out abuse, we need to ensure we hold each other accountable for building processes to deal with abuse in the most appropriate way. This includes provision of appropriate support services for athletes.
The moment in time has arrived, and as a collective sporting community we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of current and former sports people, whilst implementing a framework to protect the next generation of athletes and participants in sport.
Sport Integrity Australia’s vision is to Protect Sport Together. Central to this vision is partnership and collaboration. We are working with sports to ensure their integrity functions are appropriate and supported. Through the coordination of a national approach, protection of the integrity of sport, and of those who participate in Australian sport, is possible.
In March 2021 after consultation with key stakeholders, Sport Integrity Australia launched the National Integrity Framework. The National Integrity Framework is a suite of policies providing guidance to sports to ensure its members, and particularly children, are protected. This framework includes an independent complaints handling capability, delivered by Sport Integrity Australia.
There are varying degrees of integrity capability across all levels of sport in Australia and Sport Integrity Australia are committed to working with sport to implement the framework. This won’t happen overnight but is a positive step forward in protecting those in the community who participate in, or follow, sport.
Development of the framework involved Sport Integrity Australia partnering with the National Office for Child Safety to build child safe capability in sporting organisations with an overarching Continuous Improvement Program that will audit sports capability, assist in the development and implementation of Child Safeguarding Action Plans, develop resources and guides for all levels of sport, develop and deliver training modules and ensure transparent and accountable practices across sport.
Sport Integrity Australia is also working closely with the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office and NSW Health Complaints Commission to develop capability and the Australian Sports Commission around sports governance frameworks.
The community demands protections for those competing in sport and for this reason it is critical that Australian Sporting Organisations sign up to the National Integrity Framework which was developed after an injection of Commonwealth funds in December 2020.
The recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission review are relevant to all sports in Australia. Sports must now acknowledge the importance of adopting this framework to ensure protection of our athletes.
Sport Integrity Australia is committed to working with sports to adapt and implement the framework to ensure we get it right.
Sport is at the heart of Australian culture. It is incumbent on all of us to protect it.
Collectively we have an opportunity to make a difference. This is a moment in time in Australian sport.