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Sport NZ announces new initiatives to keep sport and recreation safe, fair and inclusive

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Sport NZ has announced a set of integrity initiatives to ensure sport and recreation remain safe, fair and inclusive for all New Zealanders, from grassroots to elite.

The new initiatives are among the 22 recommendations from Sport NZ’s 2019 Sport Integrity Report, which followed a major review involving extensive sector and public consultation.

The new measures being put in place by Sport NZ are:

  • An independent Sport and Recreation Mediation Service for the escalation and resolution of issues from elite to grassroots
  • A community guidance portal on Sport NZ’s website for those at all levels of the sector, featuring free policies, guidelines and training modules on topics such as child protection, safeguarding, preventing discrimination, competition manipulation and member protection
  • An independent Integrity Working Group, chaired by sports lawyer Don Mackinnon, to look at how New Zealand’s recreation and sport integrity institutional arrangements might be streamlined or improved for the future.

“What we have launched today constitutes a robust and appropriate set of complementary initiatives to support the sector in creating environments and experiences that are safe, fair and inclusive for all New Zealanders. With a genuine collective effort, we hope to see meaningful and sustainable gains across all levels of play, active recreation and sport,” says Jennah Wootten, General Manager – Partnerships & Communications at Sport NZ.

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“These new initiatives work together. The online resources will build awareness and capability at all levels of our sector, the Sport and Recreation Mediation Service provides an independent way to escalate issues if they arise and in the working group we have independent experts who can help us identify how all these measures can be housed into the future for maximum effectiveness.”

Iain Potter, CEO of Basketball NZ, is confident that these new support measures will benefit basketball and other sports.

“Sport is run by volunteers and they understand that their roles have considerable responsibility, especially when working with young people. In an already busy world the expectations on volunteers has increased, which is why I believe volunteers and employees throughout the sector will welcome these measures as they will help them to fulfil their responsibilities in keeping sport safe and fair, and to have a means to escalate any issues they may experience or observe.”

Special Olympics CEO Carolyn Young also welcomes the new initiatives.

“We work with hundreds of volunteers and I know the passion they have for ensuring sport and recreation are safe and inclusive. I’m sure they will embrace the opportunities to learn more about how they can contribute to this for the protection of our athletes, and I’m delighted that Sport NZ has made these resources and tools free of charge for anyone to use.”

Sport and Recreation Mediation Service

This independent service will offer complaints handling, triage and mediation services for active recreation and sport from grassroots community level to high performance and elite athletes. Following an open RFP process, Immediation New Zealand Limited has been appointed to lead this service which will launch on or before 1 February 2021.

“As we have seen within issues that have arisen in different sports over the past two years, there are times when an independent, expert service is required so that participants, athletes, volunteers and all those within the sector feel safe in stepping forward to escalate issues within a sport or recreation community,” says Michael Heron QC, Chairman of Immediation New Zealand.

“This new service covers community sport and recreation as well as high performance and elite sport and, being totally independent of any national body or Sport NZ and High Performance Sport NZ, should give anyone negatively impacted the means and confidence to step forward.”

Community Guidance Portal

Part of the Sport NZ website and available at www.sportnz.org.nz/integrity, the new Community Guidance Portal is a one-stop shop of information, policies, procedures and e-learning modules designed to increase awareness, understanding and capability of managing integrity matters at all levels of the sector.

The topics covered on the portal include child and member protection, equity and inclusion, match-fixing and gambling, anti-doping and organisational culture. A key feature is new safeguarding and child protection portal are template policies and e-learning modules developed for Sport NZ by Safeguarding Children, a New Zealand Charity. All of these are available free of charge for anyone within the sector to access.

Safeguarding Children’s CEO and children’s advocate Willow Duffy says she is delighted that Safeguarding Children was able to play a vital role in this important project and contribute to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people participating in sport and recreation in New Zealand.

“It is vital that we protect wellbeing and safety of children and young people, in sport and recreation and in all other aspects of their lives. We all have a part to play, from those who work in the sporting sector, to the team of 1.3 million who volunteer each year and parents and carers. I believe Sport NZ’s Community Guidance Portal is ground breaking and I encourage everyone from the sector who works or volunteers in roles with children and young visit the portal, to gain knowledge, skills and guidance to safeguard and protect children and young people. This is the responsibility of every one of us, we owe it to the children and young people in New Zealand.”

Integrity Working Group

The creation of an independent Integrity Working Group comprised of experts from across the sector is seen by Sport NZ as a key step in both ensuring New Zealand’s management of sport and recreation integrity remains as effective and efficient as possible.

The purpose of the Integrity Working Group is to:

  • Evaluate a range of options and recommend to the Sport NZ Board and Minister what is considered the most appropriate institutional arrangement(s)/structure(s) to manage all the various integrity elements across the system and accommodate the 22 recommendations from the Integrity Review once implemented. This will require an assessment of the current institutional arrangements involving Drug Free Sport NZ, the Sports Tribunal, the integrity function within Sport NZ and any independent services funded by Sport NZ such as the Sport and Recreation Mediation Service;
  • Monitor and support the progress being made against the 22 Review recommendations; and
  • Monitor the progress of the soon to be established Sport and Recreation Mediation Service over its initial two-year operating period, to help inform any areas for refinement and improvement.

The Integrity Working Group will be chaired by leading sports lawyer Don Mackinnon. The other members include Maria Clarke, Ben Sandford, Joe Hitchcock, Steph Bond and Rebecca Rolls (see Notes to Editors for full list of members and bios). The formation of this group follows engagement by Sport NZ with its partners on both the functions and focus of the group and its membership.

Don Mackinnon says he is proud to chair the new Integrity Working Group and looks forward to working with its members in the interest of all those who work and participate in sport and recreation.

“I congratulate Sport NZ on establishing this group and making a firm commitment to ensuring our integrity arrangements approach is world-leading now and into the future. Having a group that is so representative of the sector is equally significant, and I look forward to what we as a group can help Sport NZ achieve to ensure sport and recreation remain safe, fair and inclusive.”

Philip Clark – Group Media Manager, Sport NZ

0278 385 710

philip.clark@sportnz.org.nz

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