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Tennis Australia strengthens safeguarding children measures

Tennis Australia strengthens safeguarding children measures
July 11, 2017
Legal / Sport /

Tennis Australia has embarked on an education and information campaign aimed at strengthening safeguarding children measures across the country.

The campaign is part of Tennis Australia’s ongoing commitment to providing a safe environment for all participants.

The head of Tennis Australia’s Integrity and Compliance Unit, Ann West - a leading sports administrator and former law enforcement officer, has been tasked with implementing the new measures which include a 24-hour telephone reporting and assistance service, online form for lodging complaints and a dedicated child-safety section on the Tennis Australia website.

West explains “the Royal Commission identified that we needed to improve our procedures and process in relation to child safety within the tennis family. We want to do everything we can to ensure what has happened in the past will never happen again.

“This is why last year we engaged the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) who are leading experts in child protection and have acted as advisors for the Royal Commission on a regular basis.

“We have been working with the ACF on a nation-wide campaign which is supported by training and educational programs for administrators, coaches, staff, parents and volunteers.”

ACF Safeguarding Children Program National Manager Monique Blom has more than 15 years’ experience in child protection and has consulted with a number of organisations including the Australian Sports Commission on strengthening their child-safety measures.

Blom stated “Tennis Australia engaged the ACF to undertake a gap analysis of its Member Protection Policy and all its procedures as part of a nationwide review based on our nationally recognised standards for Safeguarding Children.

“The gap analysis included a survey of all relevant stakeholders including club administrators, both past and present staff members and participants in the sport.

“The final report highlighted 10 immediate recommendations which have either been or are currently being addressed by the Tennis Australia Integrity and Compliance Unit.”

The new measures include:

• A 24-hour telephone reporting and assistance service enabling victims to get information and advice on what to do next
• An online form for lodging complaints
• New online learning tools for Tennis Australia Member Protection and safeguarding the community aimed at clubs, coaches, staff and volunteers
• Face-to-face training and workshops for all Member Association Member Protection Information Officers
• Training for other stakeholders including club administrators, volunteers, staff members
• New Safeguarding Children Guidelines which outline clear expectations for the tennis community as to their behaviour towards children
• Online resource kits for club administrators, coaches and parents/guardians
• An extension, in the Member Protection policy wording, of the term ‘Child abuse’ to include ‘grooming’
• Improved processes relating to the reporting of child abuse and protection of ‘whistle-blowers’ from victimisation
• Member Association stakeholder workshops to engage staff and volunteer members across Australia to hear their views on how children and young people are currently safeguarded.

Highlighting that these are the most recent actions undertaken, West said Tennis Australia has implemented a range of rigorous child-safety measures over the past 10 years.

She added “it should also be noted that over the past 10 years Tennis Australia has nationalised the coaching body, required WWC checks for every registered coach as well as a National Police check. We have also developed a restricted list of persons who cannot work nor provide services within the tennis community.

“One of the greatest challenges facing tennis and indeed all sports in Australia is getting the message through at all levels of the sport.

“We have made significant changes to the Tennis Australia Member Protection policy and procedures since the Royal Commission. These changes are aimed at maintaining best practice and the highest standards to protect children and young people involved in our sport.

“Although recognised as leading in this area, we still face the daily challenge of coaches and deliverers who are working outside the standards and requirements we set. It is essential that all clubs are educated and advised that when engaging any coach, they contact their Member Association or us to ensure the coach meets the necessary requirements and is a Tennis Australia Coach Member.

“We also want to make sure parents and guardians and everyone involved in the sport are aware of their obligations when it comes to ensuring kids are cared for, comfortable and safe when engaging in tennis.”

For further information on Tennis Australia’s safeguarding children measures or to lodge a complaint online go to tennis.com.au/childsafe

The 24-hour telephone reporting and assistance service can be reached on 1800 11 SAFE (1800 117 233). 

Hot Shots tennis images used for illustrative purposes only.

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