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WAIS Recommended To Apologies For Gymnastics Abuse

WAIS western australia institute of sport gymnastics abuse

WAIS Recommended To Apologies For Gymnastics Abuse

A draft report from Sport Integrity Australia investigating the allegations of physical and emotional abuse by coaching staff towards former elite gymnasts at the Western Australia Institute of Sport (WAIS) has recommended the organisation apologies to abused gymnasts, according to the ABC.

The report ultimately determined it was ‘reasonably likely’ there were instances of abuse or harm at the WAIS by gymnastic coaching staff, after the review heard from 92 people in total, including former gymnasts, parents, coaches and support staff.

Specifically, the review found gymnasts involved in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) program at the WAIS likely suffered abuse and/or harm, with the WAG program found to not protect its gymnasts from abuse or harm.

In the report were four major recommendations for the WAIS, including: the WAIS is recommended to adopt the National Integrity Framework, including the independent complaint handling process, the WAIS ensuring all sport programs involving children are child-focused and age appropriate, the WAIS continuing to embed athlete wellbeing into policies, procedures, and practices into all sport programs, and the WAIS, in collaboration with the impacted gymnasts, engage in restorative reconciliation, with an apology to gymnasts subjected to negative behaviours.

Discussing the draft of the report, former gymnast at the WAIS, and one of the original women who came forward with allegations of abuse, Ann-Maree Vallence, said: “It’s been a very long time coming.”

“We do believe that our voices have been heard and we do believe that the abuse we went through will finally be recognised for what it was… abuse.

“We asked for an apology in October 2020, 18 months ago,” Vallence said on the initial response from the WAIS.

“The WAIS CEO and chair of the WAIS board refused.

“They publicly stated that our recollections differed from the recollections of others.

“I can read between the lines…

“After the AHRC (Australian Human Rights Commission) review evidencing abuse in gymnastics, when their hand was forced, WAIS gave a weak, frankly embarrassing apology.

“At no time has WAIS faced us with respect to the apology [so] following this report, we want a meaningful apology,” she said.

Off the back of the initial drafted report, Sport Integrity Australia has also made seven official reports to police and other agencies for the allegations of sexual and/or physical abuse.

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