Football Australia welcomes independent review process

Football Australia welcomes the development of an independent complaint management process to enable current and former footballers and staff to bring forward concerns regarding alleged abuse, harassment or bullying in relation to Football Australia’s national teams and the A-Leagues.

Under the agreement, Sport Integrity Australia will receive, assess, and manage all complaints, ensuring all concerns are heard and assessed independent of Football Australia. Details are expected to be available in the coming weeks. The National Sports Tribunal will have jurisdiction to hear any disputes that fall within the scope of the complaints process, through mediation, conciliation, or arbitration.

Football Australia initiated discussions with SIA with a view to establishing an independent mechanism to supplement the governing body’s complaint handling process under its Member Protection Framework.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson said his organisation treated matters of abuse seriously and had a “zero tolerance” approach.

“The wellbeing of our diverse community is our priority, and we’re committed to safe, inclusive environments for all footballers and staff. There is no place for abuse, harassment or bullying in our sport and it’s incumbent on organisations like ours to take the lead when it comes to dealing with these issues head-on.”

“We understand that society’s expectations have shifted, and it’s vital that our sport reflects those expectations. With this in mind, we approached Sport Integrity Australia recently and we’re pleased with this timely announcement that the proposed process will enable anyone with concerns to come forward, with the confidence that their concerns will be heard and assessed independently,” Mr. Johnson said.

Sport Integrity Australia CEO David Sharpe said it is important for complaints to be handled outside an individual sport.

“I welcome the proactive approach from FA to address these issues independently. Having an independent body to hear complaints is critical to giving athletes and staff confidence that their concerns will be heard openly and that they will be treated fairly. Nothing can be swept under the carpet.”

John Boultbee, CEO of the National Sports Tribunal said that “The involvement of the independent National Sports Tribunal as the ultimate appeal body, ensures those concerned are provided the most independent and thorough processes from the time of the complaint through to its ultimate resolution.”

Further details regarding the process, scope and timeframe will be available in the coming weeks.