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Tougher rules needed to combat child abuse - Coates

7 April 2016

AOC: The President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, believes the problem of child abuse should be elevated to the same status as doping.

Coates, and the Chief Executive Officer of the AOC, Fiona de Jong, were giving evidence at the Royal Commission into child abuse in Sydney.

They outlined measures put in place to protect young athletes from child abuse.

“Child abuse has to be elevated to the same level of seriousness as doping,” Coates said.

Under AOC Rules national sporting federation’s (NF’s) must have an anti-doping policy to be recognised as a member of the Australian Olympic Committee.

If athletes and officials don’t comply with AOC anti-doping rules they are not selected on Australian Olympic Teams.

Coates suggested the same rules should apply in regard to child abuse.

For the RIO Games, which start in August, the AOC is demanding all officials, including coaches, complete a Working with Children Check. It is a condition of the Team Agreement they must sign.

Coates told the Commission he was intending to write a letter to athletes urging them to come forward and lodge a complaint if they feel they have been the victim of abuse at the Olympic Games.

To date the AOC has not recorded one child abuse issue on one of its Teams.

De Jong told the Commission that the AOC has used Team briefing sessions in the lead up to RIO to build better trust with athletes.

Coates, who is a Vice President of the International Olympic Committee, and chairs its Legal Affairs Commission took the Royal Commission through the pilot program the IOC is developing to protest athletes from harassment and child abuse.

“I have been involved in the legal side of these initiatives along with IOC Athletes’, the Athletes’ Entourage and the Medical and Scientific Commissions so we can all better understand and deal with harassment and child abuse,” he said.

“Reporting channels have been set up for the first time in RIO”.

It is proposed an IOC appointed welfare officer will be stationed in the Olympic Village in RIO throughout the Games and will be responsible for following up alleged incidents of harassment and abuse.

De Jong told the Commission the AOC provides its team members, in Olympic and Youth Olympic Teams, with a safe living environment.

“On Australia’s Youth Olympic Winter Teams even the wax technicians, who were from Norway, had to sign a Working with Children form. If they refused they were not selected,” she said.

Coates raised the issue of Australian Swimming Coach, Scott Volkers, who was accused of molesting young female swimmers in his care but never convicted in Australia. Volkers is now coaching in Brazil. Coates said he could not tell the Brazilians what to do but if he had his way Volkers would not be allowed on pool deck in RIO. 


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