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Swimming Australia to create independent all-female panel to investigate misogyny

Swimming Australia to create independent all-female panel to investigate misogyny
June 14, 2021

Swimming Australia will set up an independent all-female panel to investigate issues relating to the experiences of women and girls in the sport following claims that the sport exploits young women and girls made last week by Olympic swimmer Maddie Groves.

Groves withdrew from the Australian Olympic swimming trials on Wednesday condemning “misogynistic perverts” in a series of social media posts.

Having announced her decision on Instagram on Wednesday, Groves elaborated on Twitter, writing “you can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus.”.

In response, recently appointed Swimming Australia Chief Executive, Alex Baumann, said the organisation will investigate Groves’ claims.

Advising of the appointment of an all-female panel to investigate whether swimming had institutional problems with women, Baumann “with some of the communications, some of the tweets, I think we have to investigate some of those issues.

“If there is an issue, come to us and we will certainly investigate it.”

Baumann added that Groves has not spoken directly with anyone from the organisation about her complaints, noting “we've tried to make contact with Madeline Groves, but she has not replied.”

Baumann said Swimming Australia had also tried to speak to Groves after she made a series of complaints on social media last year, advising “similarly, to what we did in December, when she had those tweets as well in terms of making contact and if there is an issue to come to us and we will certainly investigate it but unfortunately she never responded to that.

"It would be great if she could engage with us."

Baumann said no other swimmer had come forward to Swimming Australia with complaints about their treatment.

He said he did not think the sport had a problem with poor attitudes towards women, adding "but I think this is what we're setting up to try to find out, so we're setting up this panel to exactly take a look at that.”

The independent panel will be led by Swimming Australia Director Tracy Stockwell, who said she did not think swimming had a problem with women.

Stockwell noted “we've made lots of improvements, but we need to do a little bit more looking into this to see what the issues are, are there issues, and what do we do moving forward to protect our athletes?

"When we have any accusations of misbehaviour or inappropriate behaviour, we take that very seriously.

"In light of the fact that we don't have her coming forward, we need to look at our complaints process as well to see is there some reason why she's not coming forward and get to the bottom of it.

"What we're trying to be is as open and transparent as possible."

The terms of reference of the panel are yet to be set.

Image: Maddie Groves.

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16th April 2021 - Swimming Australia unveils new nationwide inclusive swimwear policy

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10th March 2021 - Swimming Australia extends swimwear and apparel partnership with arena

12th February 2021 - Amazon enters Australian live streaming market with Swimming Australia deal

19th January 2021 - Federal Government names members of Sport Integrity Australia Advisory Council

16th December 2020 - Swimming Australia presents 2020 Community Award winners

4th December 2020 - AUSTSWIM offers 50% subsidised Swimming and Water Safety training in Victoria

9th November 2020 - Kieren Perkins appointed as Swimming Australia President

15th October 2020 - International Swimming League announces season schedule and global broadcast deals

19th August 2020 - Swimming Australia highlights role swimming can play in nation’s Coronavirus recovery

24th July 2019 - Athlete rights crucial to sporting integrity

13th February 2019 - Sport Australia welcomes creation of new integrity agency

5th August 2017 - Federal Sports Minister launches review into integrity of Australian sport

16th September 2016 - YMCA Australia issues public apology to past victims of sexual abuse

20th February 2013 - Second report slams management of Australian swimming

19th February 2013 - Review slams ‘toxic’ culture in Olympic swim team

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