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Awaiting release of Human Rights Commission’s review Australian Sports Commission launches services to support abused gymnasts

Awaiting release of Human Rights Commission’s review Australian Sports Commission launches services to support abused gymnasts
May 2, 2021

In advance of tomorrow’s release of the independent report by the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission into allegations of abuse of gymnasts in the former Australian Institute of Sport program, the Australian Sports Commission has advised that it has created a confidential and independent support service available to former athletes and staff.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s review is expected to detail experiences of children suffering from bullying, misconduct, abuse and sexual harassment in the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) gymnastics program, which ran from 1981 to 2012.

In advance of the release of the report, Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck says he expects it to reveal "concerning events and practices within gymnastics, particularly with respect to treatment of young gymnasts” while the Australian Sports Commission has today released a statement advising “the Australian Sports Commission, including the AIS, supports this review and we respect that independent process. We will take very seriously its findings or recommendations.

“The AIS conducted a gymnastics program from 1981-2012, employing coaches and engaging scholarship athletes. We are aware of complaints throughout this history and of reviews to try and address them, including a public inquiry into the AIS gymnastics program in 1995.

“However, these latest allegations of past practises at the AIS are confronting and upsetting. We admire the courage of people who have come forward to share their stories.”

Announcing the creation of the independent support service, the statement adds “we assure athletes, we will listen and we will support you regardless of how long ago the incident occurred.

“Our primary concern is the welfare of athletes - past and present.

“We have other support services available and we want former athletes to know they can use these without cost or question.”

The AIS Mental Health Referral Network was established in 2018 to provide free and confidential support for past and present AIS athletes and people working in high performance sport. It includes a national network of mental health practitioners providing confidential support in areas of psychology, psychiatry, neuropsychology and nutrition.

Click here for more information on the AIS Mental Health Referral Network.

The Sports Commission has advised that it will make further comment once the Australian Human Rights Commission’s review is released.

Helplines for those who need support:

Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Headspace on 1800 650 890
Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) on 1800 008 774

About the author

Karen Sweaney

Editor, Australasian Leisure Management

Artist, geoscientist and specialist writer on the leisure industry, Karen Sweaney is Editor of Australasian Leisure Management. Based in Sydney, Australia, her specific areas of interest include the arts, entertainment, the environment, fitness, tourism and wellness.

She has degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and Geological Oceanography from UNSW.

Read more from this author

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