A letter from our CEO regarding the culture in gymnastics 22 July 2020
Dear Gymnastics in Australia community,
I hope you are all staying safe at this challenging time as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and our sport, and organisations and individuals are grappling to come to terms with our new normal.
I am writing to you about a hugely important issue for the Gymnastics community around the world – it goes to the heart of the culture of the sport and the behaviours that are expected and accepted in our community.
I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that Gymnastics Australia has zero tolerance to any form of abuse in our sport. Ensuring we have a community and a membership that feels safe and is safe, supported and empowered is our highest priority.
We will continue to work tirelessly to uphold policies, education and behaviours to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all members, especially young children accessing our programs and services.
We have a stand-alone Child Safe Policy, mandatory annual child safe education for all technical members and a comprehensive and confidential complaints and grievance procedure. Our Child Safe Policy was put in place after significant engagement and consultation with experts in child protection and welfare and is reviewed annually to ensure continuous improvement.
While we have accomplished a lot in recent years, I know that our work in this area is not finished, and nor should it ever be. Changing and building culture is a journey that is never complete. We need to continually challenge our thinking, actions and behaviours, and we can only do this by listening to those involved in our sport.
We are aware of the recent conversations about the culture of gymnastics following the release of the Athlete A documentary. We acknowledge and applaud those who have spoken up - their courage and their voice. We see the passion that people have for the great things about our sport and we are grateful to all of you who want to help us make our sport as safe and supportive as it can be in the future. We are here to help you and to support you and we genuinely want to hear about your experiences and your suggestions.
We acknowledge that speaking up is difficult. I want you to know that we are here to listen. And we are here to act.
I want to reassure you that there is now a robust and confidential complaints procedure in place. This is embedded within our Child Safe Policy and can be found here. If anyone would like guidance or support as to how to make a complaint please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are very keen to hear what our athlete community including our alumni, can share with us to enable us to continually improve. To this end we will be setting up ‘Listening Groups’ so we can hear from our community either individually or in groups – to discuss what support we have in place and how we can further improve. These Groups will be athlete-led and athlete-driven. I encourage anyone who would like to be a part of them to email us at GymnastAllianceAUS@gymnastics.org.au
We are also committed to ensuring that our athletes are supported and have access to any assistance they may need. There are several support mechanisms in place and these can be found outlined in this document.
I am 100% committed to ensuring that Gymnastics is a safe sport and a trusted sport in our community.
Yours in sport, Kitty
A message from CEO Kitty Chiller AM
This is a challenging time for our sport in so many ways as we continue to deal with COVID-19 and as we read and hear stories of our athlete’s time in the sport.
I once again want to applaud everyone for their courage for speaking up. Listening and hearing from anyone who has suffered is an essential step to continue on our journey of cultural change for the current and next generations.
Any change, and none more so than cultural change, does not happen overnight. It takes a collective commitment and responsibility from every member of our community over a period of time.
That time, and the desire to change, has already well and truly started at Gymnastics Australia. We have and will always have zero tolerance to any form of abuse toward any member, especially those vulnerable younger members of our community. That is why today, with the support of the Australian Institute of Sport Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team, we can announce the establishment of a completely independent helpline - that allows gymnasts, parents, coaches, staff and volunteers to confidentially report any experiences of abuse.
The Gymnastics Support Line will enable information from anyone from a national, state or club level to report safely, confidentially and with the option for anonymity to an independent company with professional trained and equipped facilitators.
We genuinely want to hear about your experiences and more importantly your constructive suggestions.
Alongside the establishment of this helpline, we are also focussing on ensuring our education courses deliver the required training of expected and accepted behaviours of all our members. We have established a Foundation Course Advisory Group with several athletes, who have aired their stories, offering to help develop and drive this new course. This Group is charged with building an education framework based on the athlete first and athlete – coach partnership philosophy.
The education framework will start with a foundation course that will be compulsory for all coaches and judges to complete in order to renew their Membership. Additionally, all affiliated clubs will be required to have their staff and volunteers complete the foundation course as well.
We continue to provide support to all athletes who have come forward and again we applaud and acknowledge you.
These are the first steps in this phase of our ongoing journey of change. We will not be complacent.
We will remain committed to listening and acting.
Speaking up is difficult, but it is so important because without this knowledge, your knowledge, we cannot make change. Together and As One.