Former US team doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse of young gymnasts has prompted updated child safety guidelines in the sport in Australia. (AP: Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal)
New child safety guidelines have been announced by Gymnastics Australia in the wake of the USA Gymnastics scandal.
Gymnastics Australia said a National Child Safety Commitment Statement had been created to protect the 91 per cent of members under 12 years old.
A child safety coordinator has been appointed and a National Child Safety Working Group is being formed to ensure children are safe while training and touring.
Gymnastics Australia chief executive Kitty Chiller said the commitment comes after USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, was jailed for molesting more than 200 young female gymnasts earlier this year.
“There always has been a commitment,” she said.
“This is obviously very much in the media and the public space, it’s had a lot more exposure in the last recent months because of the Larry Nassar case.”
Ms Chiller said the commitment adds to existing guidelines.
“What we are doing now is formalising practices that have already been in place,” Ms Chiller said.
She said the sport does not have an existing problem with child abuse.
“There’s never been any evidence or complaints that anyone’s been unhappy within the Gymnastics Australia environment,” Ms Chiller said.
“What we are trying to do in Australia is prevent that, [to] do everything within our power to prevent that happening in our country and make sure all our members are kept safe.”
Gymnastics Australia carried out an audit of its policies and procedures after the USA Gymnastics scandal.
Ms Chiller said that audit did not uncover any practices that needed to be changed.
But she said the USA Gymnastics case made it clear athletes need to be empowered to speak up when they see abuse.
“It’s all very well to have policies and we had policies, we had procedures,” she said.
“What we’re doing now is just really making sure every single one of our members all understand what those policies are about to effect behavioural change.”