Member v National Sporting Organisation

A dispute between a Member and National Sporting Organisation regarding alleged breaches of the sport’s Child Safeguarding Policy.

Matter number:
Date of decision:
Dispute type:
Disciplinary dispute
Dispute resolution method:

The National Sporting Organisation (NSO and Respondent) issued a breach notice to the Applicant in early September 2023. The Applicant’s mother disputed the findings and sanctions contained therein, as required pursuant to the NSO’s policy as the Applicant was a minor at the time. The NSO referred the matter to the General Division of the National Sports Tribunal (NST) for arbitration. 

A complaint was lodged with Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) in April 2023 by an athlete’s father as the athlete (the complainant) was a minor at the time of the complaint and under the relevant NSO policy considered a vulnerable person. The complainant alleged, on several occasions, the Applicant’s conduct constituted a breach of the NSO’s National Integrity Framework Child Safeguarding Policy. Upon notice of the complaint and investigation to be undertaken by SIA, the NSO provisionally suspended the Applicant from National representative opportunities. 

SIA concluded there were six allegations and found three of the allegations to be substantiated on the basis that each amounted to emotional and psychological abuse. In making its findings, SIA took careful consideration of both aggravating and mitigating factors which were captured in an outcome report provided to the NSO. The NSO constituted a panel to consider the outcome report and make a recommendation as to appropriate sanctions. Subsequently, the NSO imposed on the Applicant a suspension from several activities including National representative opportunities for a period of 18 months, as well as mandatory counselling, education and supervision upon return. 

The Tribunal considered the findings made by SIA along with written and oral submissions from both the Applicant and NSO and deliberated on the appropriateness of the sanction. 

In its determination, the Tribunal upheld the findings made by SIA. However, the Tribunal found the NSO did not provide appropriate weighting to the mitigating factors in issuing the breach notice. Accordingly, the Tribunal reduced the punitive measures to be imposed on the Applicant: the Applicant was to be suspended from the same activities but only for a period of nine months; the Applicant was still to undertake individual counselling, the costs of which to be covered by the Applicant; and the Applicant was still to participate in any relevant mandatory education programs, to be organised by the NSO and completed at a time convenient to both parties.