Change the Routine Update - 16 June 2022
Twelve months ago, Gymnastics Australia received the Australian Human Rights Commission's (AHRC) independent review titled Change the Routine. We commissioned the review to better understand our sport's culture, our athletes' experiences, and any barriers to reporting misconduct and abuse.
The Change the Routine report was confronting and referenced members' experiences which were simply not acceptable. Twelve months from the report, we reiterate our unreserved apology to athletes and family members who experienced abuse while participating in our sport. However, we also recognise that an apology as sincere as it was, and still is, is not enough.
We are committed to and are striving for the transformational cultural change we pledged to enact twelve months ago, and to achieve this honestly, we must ensure our actions and words are aligned at all levels of the sport.
This shared purpose and desire to want more for our athletes and our sport will continue to drive all the work we do at Gymnastics Australia now and into the future.
It has also shaped the first twelve months of our work in realising the Report's recommendations, and whilst we recognise the significant steps we have taken in our journey to transformational cultural change, we know there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. For example, we must continue to provide a platform for which everyone who comes into the sport has the best possible experience regardless of their level of skill or ability.
A significant milestone in our efforts to redefine the sport of gymnastics in Australia was the implementation of the National Integrity Framework (Framework). A thorough consultation process with members from all stakeholders within the community saw the development of a comprehensive education plan that incorporated a range of multimodal platforms. The Framework, and its suite of six policies, have re-established the high standard of expected behaviours for every individual in our sport and the collective responsibility every individual has to make gymnastics a safer sport for everyone. We are continuing to work with all of our members to understand the implementation of the Framework and to demonstrate how it protects and benefits everyone in gymnastics
The adoption of the Framework delegates Sport Integrity Australia as the independent investigator for concerns regarding serious misconduct, providing independence and transparency in complaints management. Gymnastics Australia's Integrity team is also available to the gymnastics community to receive concerns regarding integrity matters. Coupled with the launch of a Disciplinary Register located on Gymnastic Australia's website, these two critical steps assist in proactively safeguarding our community against inappropriate and unacceptable behaviours. With such measures in place, we continue to work towards reinstating the faith and trust of our community.
Another key area highlighted in the report was the focus on the 'ideal body' and the harmful ways those in positions of authority enforced a preconceived notion of perfection. The irreversible damage this way of thinking has had on many in our community is upsetting, and its lifelong effects are indefensible.
Poor communication styles, hurtful comments, processes to monitor body composition, and misinformation about food and nutrition can be impactful and potentially detrimental to an individual's self-esteem and self-image long after their involvement within the sport has ended.
Acknowledging this, we will soon release Gymnastics Australia's approach to addressing Body Image Dissatisfaction and consequential mental and physical health conditions. Entitled Body Care, this strength-based Framework aims to rewrite the narrative about how bodies are talked about and treated in gymnastics in Australia.
Recognising that we are not experts in this area, we engaged several subject matter experts to help develop the Framework documents, including the Butterfly Foundation and the Australian Institute of Sport. In this process, we consulted closely with athletes across all levels of the sport to ensure the Framework was a true advocate for those at the centre of everything we do.
The Body Care Framework was developed to equip all members with the tools and strategies to nurture an environment 'where every body is cared for, encouraged and empowered to achieve their potential in an environment that is fun, safe and inclusive'.
Understanding the essential role parents and coaches play in working together to provide children with the best possible sporting experiences, we recently established a new partnership with UK based organisation Working with Parents in Sport. Through this partnership, all our clubs, coaches and parents have access to a range of valuable and relevant resources and educational materials to foster a better working relationship between all parties to provide a positive sporting environment.
Since the establishment of Gymnastics Australia’s Youth Advisory Panel, we have heard quite clearly from the young people involved that when we wish to define what a positive event experience looks like, it is critical for us that this is defined by our athletes.
We released our new online course, "You've Got This! Creating a Positive Event Culture; an athlete-led vision of positive event culture", before the Australian Gymnastics Championships. This compulsory course for all officials and coaches involved in the event established the behavioural expectations for those in attendance. It was a powerful reminder about the collective responsibility we all have to ensure competition environments are safe and enjoyable for everyone.
In yet another example of how we have encouraged athlete empowerment and participation, the youth advisory panel was also consulted on our soon-to-be released Social Media Policy. The Policy clearly articulates the expectations and boundaries of all members whilst also giving the gymnastics community the knowledge and confidence to engage with social media safely and respectfully. The e-Safety Commissioner has also endorsed the Policy.
While we have made significant progress since the report's release, we understand there is more to do and that our work in this space will continue to evolve and respond to the community's needs. We also recognise that there have been many people and many organisations who are keen to support us on this journey.
We acknowledge those who have supported us over the last 12 months, including Sport Integrity Australia, Butterfly Foundation, Australian Human Rights Commission, University of Victoria, our State and Territory Associations and most importantly, our clubs and members.
We remain motivated and committed to ensuring all 12 recommendations of the report are not only delivered but implemented in a meaningful and sustainable way, leading to a whole-of-sport cultural change.