Royal Commission kicks-off inquiry into sporting clubs
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has set its sights on sporting organisations as it seeks information from victims or anyone with knowledge that a child has been sexually harmed in an Australian sports environment.
Bravehearts CEO and Founder Hetty Johnston AM, says sporting clubs right across the spectrum would be investigated.
“Every organisation that works with children has a duty of care and responsibility to protect them and there are thousands of kids right across Australia involved in local sports clubs from swimming to nippers, gymnastics, soccer, cricket, rugby league, AFL and rugby union just to name a few,” she says.
“This inquiry will examine organisations and determine where systemic failures have led to children being sexually assaulted in these settings. We hear too often about offenders who have targeted sporting clubs to groom and access children and a failure by those organisations to respond appropriately.
“This presents an opportunity for sporting organisations to revise their child protection policies and act on any information by alerting police and contacting the Royal Commission to help future protect the sports stars of tomorrow.”
Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed says while the Commission already has information concerning child sexual assault within Australian sporting clubs, it would like to hear from others who were sexually assaulted while in the care of a sporting club.
“Whether you were abused yourself, you know of a child who was, or you have any information about the sexual abuse of a child in a sporting club, we would like to hear from you,” he says.
Meanwhile Bravehearts is teaming up with sporting organisations around the country to train staff who work with children. It follows a joint initiative with Little Athletics (pictured) to help keep more than 96,000 Aussie kids safer and empower adults with specialist knowledge.
Designed to create change and empower the community at large, Bravehearts criminologists, psychologists and education teams have worked alongside the Queensland Police Child Protection Unit to develop the program, which takes a proactive approach to educating and motivating all adults who work with children and to create child-safe cultures.
Mrs Johnston says the training highlights the responsibility adults have in keeping children safe.
“We are delighted to partner with Little Athletics Australia – an organisation taking child protection seriously by empowering its staff with vital training around child sexual assault,” she says.
“By increasing the general awareness of this crime and its prevalence in the Australian community, this program enables organisations such as Little Athletics to play a crucial role in helping to protect the most vulnerable members of our community whilst allaying the unhelpful fear factor associated with this sensitive issue.”