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Recreation and sport ensuring a child safe environment

Recreation and sport ensuring a child safe environment

Stock kids playing soccer

South Australia has developed a proactive program to ensure all children are safe when pursuing sport and active recreation opportunities.

Executive Director for the Office for Recreation and Sport (ORS) Paul Anderson, said the Office has established various initiatives to assist South Australian sport and recreation organisations to create child safe environments within their programs.

"This is such a vitally important area," he said. "Following changes to the Children's Protection Act in 2009, ORS immediately recognised the need to ensure all those working and volunteering in the Sport and Recreation sector are adequately resourced and trained.

"South Australia led the way with the Mulligan Enquiry and ORS through its work shows how we can all combine together to share the responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of our children."

Mr Anderson said the various initiatives developed by ORS are aimed are aimed at assisting clubs and organisations to create an environment that minimises the risk for children and young people; and where children are valued and encouraged to reach their potential. Clubs and organisations are also supported to ensure staff and volunteers are aware of their role and responsibilities in reporting and responding to issues of abuse and neglect.

"While we need people to be aware of the respohnsbilities in keeping children safe it is equally important that when issues of child abuse do occur that it is handled as sensitively as possible," he said.

"To illustrate how important the State Government regards this issue there are now certain requirements sporting and recreation organisations must meet before they will be considered for some funding programs."

This includes providing evidence of having lodged a child safe compliance statement and requiring that state level coaches, managers and officials complete online child protection training provided through www.playbytherules.net.au.

Mr Anderson said it was pleasing to see the sport and active recreation sector equally recognising its important role in creating a safe and supportive enviornment for children.

"For example since 2011 over 800 individuals from clubs across South Australia have attended a free Child Safe Officer course to ensure they are up to speed on the issue and how they can ensure their club is child safe," he said.

Some of the other initiatives in the child protection field developed by ORS that are available to the sector include:

  • A Member Protection Policy template that incorporates the Child Safe Environment Policy to assist sport and recreation organisations to develop individual policies.
  • The inclusion of a Child Safe Environments checklist along with further awareness and information material on the STARCLUB online club management tool to support clubs in dealing with the legislative requirements.
  • The distribution of the "Keeping Children Safe in Recreation and Sport" booklet with information and advice to the sport and recreation sector - since July 2011 20,000 copies have been distributed to clubs across the State.

Mr Anderson said while the Office for Recreation and Sport along with the sport and recreation sector have done much to see that children are not put at risk, the work still continues.

Another 20 free Child Safe Officer courses are planned for 2013 while ORS is also set to review its resources in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

For further information on child safe initiaitives supported by the Office for Recreation and Sport visit www.recsport.sa.gov.au.