Gymnastics Australia release Child Safety Commitment Statement

Gymnastics Australia (GA) has released a National Child Safety Commitment Statement, in conjunction with its eight State and Territory Member Associations, declaring to protect the safety, wellbeing and empowerment of all children and young people accessing its programs and services.

This whole of sport Commitment Statement is co-signed by each State and Territory and the GA President, demonstrating the collective prioritisation by all to child safety, and gymnastics’ leadership in this space. Gymnastics Australia CEO, Kitty Chiller, said the release of the statement is another important milestone in the sport’s focus in the area of child protection.

“2018 will see our collective prioritisation and focus in the child safety area. We are forming a National Child Safety Working Group and have just appointed a specialist Child Safety Coordinator, Phoebe Pownall; a resource to be shared with Gymnastics Victoria.”

Phoebe has over 10 years’ experience working with children and young people both in a national and international setting. Joining us from her previous role at Berry Street – Victoria’s largest independent child and family services organisation - and prior to that at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as a Child Protection Practitioner and Behavioural Intervention Specialist, Phoebe’s breadth of expertise and qualifications will support Gymnastics’ commitment to child safety.

“With 91% of our 220,000+ athlete members aged under 12, child safety is the highest priority for the GA Board, Senior Management, and all States and Territories. We are currently updating our resources, including our Member Protection Policy, Code of Conduct, and Team and touring documentation, with a host of additional projects set to further strengthen our processes and procedures. We will commit to doing everything possible to provide a safe environment for children to participate in the sport of gymnastics,” Chiller said.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Board released a Child Safe Commitment Statement in 2017 and ASC Chief Executive Officer, Kate Palmer, commended Gymnastics Australia for taking these steps to prioritise child safe environments.

“As the ASC Board made clear, child safety must be embedded in every Australian sporting organisation’s culture, reflected in their policies and procedures, and understood and practised at all levels of the sport” Palmer said.

“In conjunction with the ASC, GA will be rolling out a Club Toolkit to our 600+Affiliated Clubs across Australia, to assist them with implementing Child Friendly practices within their facilities. GA will endeavour to ensure that every member of the gymnastics community across the country – whether an athlete, coach, official, administrator, parent, guardian or spectator – has access to the resources and information needed to ensure they or the children in their care feel safe and empowered,” Chiller added.

With the appointment of a Child Safety Coordinator and the collaboration of our national and state governing bodies - as well as other key stakeholders in the Australian sporting landscape - Gymnastics in Australia looks forward to continuing to be a leader in the area of child safety and protection.