Gymnastics Victoria's Child Safe Bootcamp

On Wednesday 11 August Gymnastics Victoria hosted our first annual Child Safe Bootcamp online as a series of webinars relating to the safeguarding of children in the sport. 

The first webinar was presented by Rhys Harrison from Gymnastics Australia and Samantha Dellamarta, a Child Safe Consultant for Gymnastics Victoria. The topic of this presentation centred on the ‘Change the Routine report’ and strategies that will be implemented in gymnastics going forward. 

This webinar focused closely on empowering children in the sport and how this movement will be implemented by both Gymnastics Australia and Gymnastics Victoria. Much of this webinar outlined the importance of giving children a voice and directing these safeguarding procedures directly to their needs. 

Rhys discussed the four working groups that have been established by Gymnastics Australia to cover different areas of the report. The four work stream areas are: coaching, athlete empowerment, complaints handling and governance. 

It was particularly discussed that the area of coaching will be a vital component of safeguarding children going forward, with four main outcomes to drive this priority.
- A Coach Support Program – programs to assist with the understanding of skill development, mental health and building upon continual accountability with coaches.
- Professional Development Program – continual training to prime coaches to be comprehensive, current and safe.
- Accreditation Course review – mandated reviewed accreditation and workshops to stay current and updated in all aspects of working within the sport. 
- Quality Assurance Framework – a structure for screening coaches before recruitment into a working position. 

Coaches being informed, updated and aware of safeguarding children is a vital factor in making sure coaches are fit for the job. Coaches will build upon ‘softs skills’ and appropriate communication strategies, combined with updated training to ensure they are providing a safe and welcoming experience for children in the sport. 

Gymnastics Victoria’s Child Safe Consultant Samantha spoke about the work being undertaken in the child safety space in Victoria focused on the delivery of child safety courses and workshops.  

This month, Gymnastics Victoria will release an eLearning course to assist the workforce to understand the Change the Routine Report, this online course will be made available through the LearnGym platform.

Gymnastics Victoria have also developed a face to face workshop titled Raising the Bar which will be presented by Olympians Ash Brenna and Steph Moorhouse. The workshop will focus on athlete empowerment through coaching and now your club can support an environment where athletes have a voice. 

The second webinar was about Child Safe Internal Audits and why they are important in safeguarding children. This webinar was presented by Gymnastics Victoria’s Manager of Governance and Compliance Ruth Braakhuis who broke down the stigma of audits being a scary process by suggesting they should be used as a constant self-reflection process. The idea of audits as a self-reflection process gives clubs the opportunity to recognise and celebrate what their organisation does well while also highlighting areas for improvement. 

The last webinar was on Child Safe Screening for Gymnastics Staff. This webinar was presented by Gymnastics Victoria’s Education and Workforce Coordinator Vicki Fitzwater. Vicki delved into the practical strategies that GV uses to ensure our presenter workforce is compliant in child safety and strongly believe in child safe practices to support the organisation in providing ongoing safe and engaging participation in the sport. 

Are you from a Gymnastics Club and want to know the steps to becoming a Child Safe Club? Click here.