Vicsport Forum analyses privacy and e-safety in sport 

For the first time ever, Vicsport held a combined Child Safe Sport and Member Protection Information Officer (MPIO) Forum last month, focusing on the issues of privacy and e-safety in sport.

With Simon Merritt (Senior Associate at Lander & Rogers) and Greg Gebhart (Senior Education Trainer at the eSafety Commission), the Forum concentrated on adherence to privacy laws when managing member protection and child safe matters as well as how to make online environments safe.

In addition, Keddie Davis (Director, Participation and Sector Development at Sport and Recreation Victoria) discussed the state government’s future priorities around child safety while Vicsport team members Fiona Jones (Sports Consultant) and Tom Dixon (Participation and Innovation Manager) were on hand for the event’s Q&A section.

“We thought this was a great opportunity to combine the topics into one session as there are a lot of common issues when tackling child safety and member protection and the content often aligns across both areas,” said Vicsport Sports Consultant Fiona Jones.

“In smaller organisations in particular, one person often deals with both areas and would likely attend two forums so we aimed to streamline the event this year.”

Following multiple enquiries addressing privacy and concerns around child safe sport, Simon’s presentation focused on the Australian Privacy Principles and ways in which sports can apply them. Sports have already contacted Lander & Rogers for advice and Simon relayed the ways in which organisations can protect themselves from privacy, defamation and/or confidentiality issues when having to investigate and potentially sanction individuals.

“Many sport organisations that Vicsport works with do not surpass the $3 million threshold that means they have to legally meet the Privacy Principles,” said Fiona. “However, just because you do not have to do it legally, does not mean you shouldn’t do it ethically.

Greg’s presentation looked at how to create a culture of online safety within an organisation and provided a checklist for organisations and clubs to review their online safety policies and practices.

Key messages included having a designated senior member included in all communications with participants to protect both parties and ensuring participants know when and how to report an incident if they feel threatened, harassed, intimidated, or humiliated online.

Greg also discussed the ideas of keeping professional and personal social media accounts separate, ensuring participants know they have the right to be consulted about their image being posted online, advising participants and parents/carers about where online communications will occur and if photos or videos are used for coaches’ feedback, inform them where the content will be stored and when it will be deleted.

“Online safety is a contentious environment, especially around the abuse that can be facilitated on the internet,” said Fiona. “It was covered in the previous Standards but is more targeted in the new ones so the focus on e-safety will continue to grow.”

Directly following the Forum, Vicsport held a Child Safe Community of Practice on August 2 that further analysed discussion points brought up during the Forum.

Following the Victorian Government’s announcement that new Child Safe Standards will commence on 1 July 2022, Vicsport will now look towards assisting sports with preparing for the new Standards.

“It can be difficult at times, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives not just for the kids involved but for the sport as a whole. The new Standards give sport organisations an opportunity to reflect on what they have achieved so far and think about how they can continue to strengthen their processes moving forward.”

“We’re wanting to engage the sporting community as we develop and roll out support and resources to help sports align to the new Standards so keep an eye out for opportunities to be involved and if you would like to assist, be sure to contact us,” said Fiona. “And as always, we will keep our members informed in the lead-up to the new Standards coming into effect on July 1, 2022.”

Vicsport is committed to helping create safe, supportive, and protective sporting environments for children and young people across Victoria. Check out our Child Safety in Sport webpage for more information.

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