Everyone has a role to play in creating safe and fair clubs. Club committees can take the lead with some important groundwork. Here are 8 steps your committee should take:
Most sport clubs are affiliated to a peak body, national, state or association level. Be familiar with how they can help. There are likely to be established policies and codes of conduct in place for your sport. Your peak body may also have plans, training and education, campaigns and programs you can make use of.
The foundation of safe and fair clubs is positive conduct and behavior by everyone – and at the heart of this is values and culture. Values could include respect, fair play, fun, appreciation, inclusion and safety.
Here are some suggestions for building values and culture:
- Discuss and agree on club values – get input from everyone
- Incorporate values into club plans and policies
- Lead by example – club leaders should be role models
- Communicate values often – use newsletters, venue signage, social media and so on
- Build values into club education, training and inductions
- Reward members who demonstrate club values eg. end of season award for Respect
- Check in often – eg. ask members in an end of season survey to rate club values and culture
By doing this, you are working towards a positive culture – creating a club that is committed to fairness, safety for all.
When it comes to fair and safe clubs, a wide range of laws can apply. These are generally issue based. For example, there are laws in Australia and NSW governing child protection, discrimination, liquor licensing, privacy, food handling, work, health and safety, match fixing and more.
Clubs must understand and comply with their legal responsibilities. This may involve integrating requirements into policies, providing education and communication activities. Further guidance is provided in the Topics section.
Rules and policies are an important foundation for creating fair and safe clubs. They allow you to set clear expectations and deal with inappropriate behvaiour.
Every sport and every club will be different, but some of the common types of rules and policies you may have to support fair and safe sport include:
- Club constitution and by-laws which may contain, for example, disciplinary processes
- Codes of Conduct – for players, administrators, coaches, officials, spectators
- Policies, which may cover (standalone or combined)
- Member protection
- Complaints management
- Technology/social media/e-Safety
- Child protection or safeguarding children
- Bullying, harassment, and discrimination
- Varying safety related issues eg. Heat policy, injuries, concussion
- Team selections
When determining and developing policies for your club consider:
- what your peak body has in place
- constitution and by-laws
- risk assessments and issues
- consulting members.
Policies should be written in simple, clear language. It’s also important they don’t gather dust on the shelf. Communicate and educate on your policies often, and review them on a regular basis.
Strong education and communication to members is essential to achieving a safe and fair club. Come up with a simple plan and think about:
- Regular communication of your values and policies
- Reoccurring and concerning issues you may need to focus on eg. Official abuse or team selections may be an ongoing problem
- Different audiences to tailor information to eg. coaches, young children, parents
- Communication channels you have available eg. inductions, meetings, newsletters, website, social media
- Make communication two-way. Create opportunities for members to provide feedback and ideas
Safe and fair clubs encompass a wide range of topics and potential issues. The busy nature of clubs means there is often little time for being proactive - we often wait until an issues arises, then deal with it.
- Being proactive – get on the front foot with positive strategies and messages
- Expertly reactive – when concerns or issues arise, deal with matters promptly, professionally, transparently and according to your established rules and processes.
Sport clubs are busy places. For something to get done, it usually needs to be assigned to someone. All the above outlined takes time and effort, and won’t happen without a ‘champion’ to drive it.
Appoint a volunteer in this area to help you:
- Proactively drive the values, culture and communication you need
- Help manage issues and concerns which may arise.
No one-size fits all clubs. The ‘champion’ may form part of an existing voluntary role, such as the President. Other common roles in clubs that take a lead in this area include:
- Member Protection Information Officer
- Welfare officer
- Child safe officer
- Inclusion officer.
Further resources to assist
Play by the Rules – Governance to support fair and safe clubs