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The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) was a five year long inquiry, held between 2013 to 2017, inquired into Australian institutional responses to child sexual abuse and related matters.

During its inquiry the Royal Commission:

  • Handled 42,041 calls
  • Received 25,964 letters and emails
  • Conducted 8,013 private session, where Commissioner spoke with survivors
  • Conducted 50+ public hearings (case studies)
  • Conducted community consultation program
  • Conducted a research program

Sport and Recreation organisations at the Royal Commission

Many sport and recreation case studies were presented at the Royal Commission. 408 survivors who spoke with the Commission experienced abuse in a sport and recreation setting. The Royal Commission identified that abuse occurred in 344 sport and recreation organisations.

With regards to sport and recreation, some of the Royal Commission findings were:

Locations where abuse commonly occurred

  • Camps
  • Overnight competitions and excursions
  • Billeting and hosting arrangements
  • Travel arrangements
  • Change rooms and concealed or obscured environments
  • Public environments

Risk factors - grooming 

  • Coaching relationships
  • Inappropriate activity and adult material
  • Erosion of personal boundaries 
  • Targeting vulnerability 
  • Valuing performance over safety 

Risk factors - sporting cultures 

  • Normalised violence and harassment
  • Normalised sexual cultures 
  • Valuing adults over children 
  • High level of involvement

Factors that enabled sexual abuse in sport and recreation organisations  

  • Institutional leadership, governance and culture
     Unchecked and unaccountable leaders
    – Pursuit of excellence at any cost
    – Protection of reputation
    – Institutional cultures of physical abuse and bullying
  • Inadequate complaints management
  • Inadequate policies and procedures
  • Lack of education, training and communication of policies
  • Poor record keeping and information sharing

More information

7 lessons for sport from the Royal Commission Play by the Rules.

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