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Safeguarding all in sport is crucial says Phillips

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A two-year pilot program for an independent complaints and disputes resolution model will allow Australian sporting organisations to effectively respond to escalating and shifting integrity threats across sport.

Commonwealth Games Australia has welcomed the Federal Government announcement of $10 million in funding for the Sport Integrity Australia program commencing in 2021.

This fast tracks the capability resources and capability of Sport Integrity Australia with the profile and incidence of serious complaints evolving more rapidly than anticipated, requiring an accelerated response.

Commonwealth Games Australia, in conjunction with fellow peak sporting bodies the Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia will work with both Sport Integrity Australia and the National Sports Tribunal to ensure all sports can access these programs.

Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips said the fast-tracking of the resources available for Sports Integrity Australia and the National Sports Tribunal is crucial to the safeguarding and governance of Australian sport.

“Having access to a truly independent process for grievances, tribunals, selection disputes and other issues is crucial to the integrity of Australian sport,” Phillips said.

“Commonwealth Games Australia will look to how we can adopt the National Sports tribunal processes for our team selection, Code of Conduct and dispute resolution activities for our Birmingham 2022 team and we congratulate the Government and Minster for Youth and Sport Richard Colbeck for providing secured funding for the pilot program through to 2023.

“We will also look towards how we work with Sport Integrity Australia to embed safeguarding processes into the management of the team.”

Sport Integrity Australia CEO David Sharpe believes funding of the two year trial is an important step across a range of integrity issues facing Australian sport, including child safeguarding issues.

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,” 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).

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.”

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.

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