Coates introduces tighter controls to prevent child abuse

7 May 2016

AOC: Olympic sports will need to comply with tough new rules surrounding child abuse before their athletes can join an Australian Olympic Team.
The new measures , introduced by the President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, says sports must adopt a child protection policy before they can nominate athletes for selection on the Australian Olympic Team.

Without a Member Protection Policy their athletes cannot compete at the Games. “it is not negotiable, we will reject anyone whose sport has not implemented a child protection policy” Coates said.

The AOC Executive has amended its Team Selection By-Law stating “only those NFs (National Federations) that have adopted and implemented a Member Protection Policy with which they conform and comply may nominate athletes for selection to, or membership or continued membership of, any (Olympic) Team”

The AOC move puts the issue of child abuse on equal footing with drugs in sport.

In 2014, the AOC inserted a clause in their Anti-Doping Policy insisting all NFs accept “coercive powers”, compelling athletes and coaches to answer questions about illegal drugs even if it may incriminate them, or they would not be selected on the Olympic Team.

“We had 100% take-up from our member sports on coercive powers and I am confident we will get the same result with these child protection measures” Coates said.

Coates acted following his appearance, along with AOC Chief Executive Officer, Fiona de Jong, before the Royal Commission into Child Abuse chaired by the Honourable Justice Peter McClellan.

Coates was responding to a call from the Royal Commissioner to get “ahead of the game”.

During the AOC’s appearance Mr Justice McClellan voiced his frustration at the failure of Federal and State Governments to introduce a National Working with Children Check.

“I got the message loud and clear. The AOC Executive did not hesitate when I recommended the change. Justice McClellan has been pushing the governments for a national approach for close on a year, and I promised him I would back the move.

The football codes, cricket, tennis and netball are all on-side, now it’s the Government’s turn. Coates asked. This matter is urgent, we are talking about the safety of young children.

“Every sport in Australia has to comply with the World Anti-Doping Code why shouldn’t the same importance be placed on child abuse”.

During the AOC testimony Commissioner Murray suggested the AOC take action on “grooming”. Coates responded with the inclusion of grooming in the definition of child abuse.

“Athletes need to feel comfortable and come forward and report an incident. If athletes in Rio don’t think they are being heard , they should go to the Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller, or come to me. I will be outside the Village but I am contactable. I think we’ve just got to nail this”.

AOC

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