Statement from Football Australia RE allegations of historical player misconduct

In 2019, Football Australia initiated and backed the Independent Review of National Teams Management – a process which was conducted by a three-member independent panel of eminent figures in Australian sport including Diane Smith-Gander AO, Rod McGeoch AO and Liz Ellis AO.

Since then, we have implemented at least 75% of the recommendations from the review and we are in the process of implementing the balance. Further, we intend to go beyond the recommendations in the report as we set about addressing the cultural issues of the past and putting Australian football – both women’s and men’s – on a path to continual improvement and sustainable success on and off the field. Key initiatives so far have included the appointment of specialist resources in and around our women’s national teams including new senior and assistant coaches, high performance and technical directors, and a national wellbeing manager.

In addition, we have introduced equal pay improvements, multi-channel feedback processes, and a revised member protection framework and whistle-blower policy. We have majority female representation on the nine-member Football Australia Board, along with a committed Congress which includes a Women’s Council with membership rights in Football Australia – the first for any sport in Australia – and a long-term commitment to the women’s game through our Legacy ‘23 plan.

Australian football takes a zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game. To that end, we encourage anyone to bring forward their concerns through Football Australia’s formal complaints process under the Member Protection Framework, with the knowledge that any such matter will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

While it is not appropriate to discuss individual cases, we have met with Lisa De Vanna and heard her grievances, and can confirm that the specific allegations made public were not raised with us in that meeting. We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organisation, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001. In the event that Lisa chooses to lodge a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be in a position to investigate and, if appropriate, act accordingly. The same process is open to Rhali Dobson and other former players and staff to formally bring forward any claims.

Over and above Football Australia’s formal complaints handling protocols, we have also been engaging with Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) to develop an additional process for independently investigating allegations of a historical nature as they relate to former players and staff – such as Lisa and Rhali. We will announce the joint initiative with SIA once the details have been finalised.