The State Government has apologised to gymnasts subjected to harmful behaviour and coaching practices while participating in a Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) gymnastics program between 1988 and 2016.
Sport and Recreation Minister David Templeman issued the apology in Parliament in response to a Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) Review into allegations relating to children and young people involved in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Program run by WAIS.
WAIS has accepted and agreed to implement the following SIA Review recommendations to:
- adopt a National Integrity Framework, with an independent complaint handling process;
- ensure all sports programs involving children are child-focused and age appropriate;
- continue to embed athlete wellbeing into policies, procedures and practices in all sports programs; and
- in collaboration with the impacted gymnasts, engage in a restorative and reconciliatory process.
The Minister has directed the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) to consult with affected gymnasts to:
- oversee and audit WAIS’ compliance with implementation of the SIA Review recommendations;
- facilitate the restorative and reconciliation process; and
- undertake a comprehensive governance and culture review of WAIS.
The Minister also announced the establishment of a dedicated Child Safeguarding Unit at the DLGSC, which will investigate measures needed to ensure the protection of children in all levels of sport across WA.
As stated by Sport and Recreation Minister David Templeman:
“The Western Australian Government apologises to gymnasts who suffered harm while participating in the WAIS Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Program. Thank you for coming forward to advocate for change and we acknowledge your ongoing suffering.
“While saying sorry cannot undo the actions of the past, it is an important starting point in making amends and rebuilding trust. I sincerely hope that this apology helps with the healing process.
“On behalf of the State Government I would also like to acknowledge the courage shown by the women who shared their experiences during the Sport Integrity Australia Review. Your contribution has exposed systemic issues and unacceptable conduct resulting in distressing, long-term consequences for many gymnastics program participants.
“The safety and wellbeing of our young athletes is of the utmost importance.”