Policies and codes ensure that everyone in sport is aware of their legal and ethical rights and responsibilities. The related procedures help eliminate discrimination, harassment, child protection issues and other forms of inappropriate behaviour. These policies are backed up by federal and state anti-discrimination laws that make discrimination and harassment unlawful in relation to a person’s gender, sexuality, disability, race, colour, national and ethnic origin, descent, ethnic or ethno-religious background in all areas of life, including sport.
Some sports have their own anti-discrimination and vilification policy which brings together all their policies into one document to make it accessible. Some also have specific disability, gender or transgender and sexuality policies, which outline commitments and complaints/reporting processes. Sports can also have a Welcome to Country policy, communications policy, spectator behaviour policy and team selection policy.
The following policies, processes and codes are an essential part of an organisation’s proactive and preventative approach to tackling inappropriate behaviour. Policies should be reviewed and updated regularly and they should be adopted and promoted by all levels of your sport.
A member protection policy protects your sport’s participants, administrators, coaches, officials and volunteers from harassment, discrimination, child protection issues and other inappropriate behaviour and provides processes to deal effectively with complaints.
All complaints, especially code of conduct or behavioural breaches need to be dealt with promptly, seriously, sensitively and confidentially. People who witness a breach – or are the victim of it – need to know who to go to for advice and who to make their report to. A Member Protection Information Officer (MPIO) provides information and options to the person making the complaint or raising the concern and provides support during the process. A Complaints Officer receives the complaint and makes a decision or imposes disciplinary measures if required.
In most cases, when a breach occurs it should be dealt with at the appropriate level (national, state, association or club). Greater promotion and awareness of this process throughout the sport may prevent people from going outside of their jurisdiction to raise matters or ‘going straight to the top for a decision’ when an issue occurs.
Your organisation should:
- promote the complaints process to all staff, members and volunteers
- promote contacts and training opportunities to all clubs/members
- promote the Play by the Rules Quick Reference Guide to all clubs/members.
Keep in mind that you can also complain to external organisations under anti-discrimination, child protection and other relevant human rights laws.
A Code of Conduct provides all participants – players, parents, coaches, referees, spectators, volunteers and officials – with some simple minimal standards of expectations of behaviour that are achievable, realistic and relatable to your environment and sport.
Your sport should be committed to promoting a safe and respectful environment for all children and young people, and to assist everyone to recognise child protection issues and know the relevant reporting procedures.
New technologies and social networking have greatly increased the potential for bullying or discrimination through inappropriate and unlawful comments. To outline how your sport will not tolerate abusive, discriminatory, intimidatory or grooming behaviours being made online and how issues will be dealt with you should have a Social Media Policy.