• How can we ensure a safe return to sport and mitigate the risk using Sport Australia's Return to Sport Toolkit

    35m 56s

    Think Tank 5 looks at Sport Australia's Return to Sport Toolkit with Kate Corkery (Sport Australia) and Iain Roy, two fo the driving forces behind the Return to Sport Toolkit. 

These are extraordinary times, the presence of COVID-19 means that each and every one of us, each and every one of us is facing our toughest ever opposition, although we stand apart if we work together as a team, as a team, and play by the rules, and play by the rules, we'll see you get back to playing and watching the sport that we love.

We need your support now more than ever, more than ever. Wash your hands and listen to the advice. If we play by the rules, we'll all get through this together.

Hello and welcome. My name is Peter Downs from Play by the Rules. Welcome to Think Tank five. I think, in our in our series are post COVID-19 Community Sports Support Series. This is a special kind of event squeezed in between on Friday think tanks to look at the Sport Australia's Return to Sport Toolkit. I'd like to start, though, by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we are all sitting today and pay my respect to elders past, present and emerging.

I say this is a a special issue, if you like, over there. Think tank series. We wanted to do this. Squeeze this one quickly because Sport Australia has just released the Return to Sport Toolkit to assist sport right across the board, including community sport in the return to playing and activity Post COVID-19. And we're very lucky today to have two of the driving forces behind the Toolkit with us today, Kate Corkery from Sport Australia. And Iain Roy, who will be we'll be introducing just in a second or two. So please, I want to, I see people are already saying hi on the live chat, which is great, please. I anticipate a lot of questions here. What the format will be is that we will go for around 20 minutes talking about the Toolkit and then we'll take your your questions and comments that we won't be able to get through all of them, but we'll get through the ones that we can and we'll certainly respond to them post the think tank as well. So please start sending in your your questions as we go as we go along. I'll be monitoring those here on the on the laptop. So let me introduce to you Kate Corkery from Sport Australia. And Kate is director of Sport Australia's Sports Governance and Strategy Team. And I'd like to say one of the driving forces behind the return to sport toolkit. How can you hear me, Kate?

Yes. Hello, Peter. Hi, Kate. How you doing? Very well, thank you.

Good. Good. Okay. Do you want to kick start us without further ado, Kate, about the origins and perhaps a bit of background and then going into some of the details of what's actually in the Toolkit.

Absolutely. Well, thanks for having us today. This Return to Sport Toolkit was a very exciting collaboration between Hockey Australia and Sport Australia, which started off as a conversation around. There was going to be a point at time and sport was going to be back. And when we got to that point in time, how do we get to do that? Acknowledging that over three point one million, a million volunteers basically run and drive sport, particularly at a community level in this country.

So we set about with Hockey Australia and their member states and clubs to build a set of practical and useful tools. Drafted in expertise external to Sport Australia with Iain Roy and Darren James. And then user tested those tools, for their effectiveness. We also, as we went through the process, worked with the state offices for sport and the Commonwealth Sports Health and Advisory Committee to make sure that we were looking to standardise and centralise what had become quite a confusing and complex minefield of information.

And that was how we how we started it and why we we built out the Toolkit and we knew we had one shot to get return to sport right. We knew that it be our volunteers that were doing the work and we knew that the AIS Reboot Framework had been in the market. And there were questions about how.

So our state departments and our state governments have got responsibility for when. The AIS Reboot Framework talked about what and a little bit towards how. But this toolkit was really designed to be the big how. National guidelines, simple tools to help our sport volunteers cover off on the basics and at the end of the day, a really centralised, authoritative set of information with a trusted source of ideas and thought starters.

As we built it out and as we tested it. There was an acknowledgement of the confusion and complexity that was out in the market, and we want this toolkit to be a safe pair of hands. So we have got five major components for the toolkit, which are online. There's two checklists. There's a template safety plan, a template attendance register and a COVID Safety Coordinators roles and responsibilities guidance. For the purposes of today's think tank. I'm going to have a bit of a start on the checklist. Describe why this two checklist and why we thought that was important. And then I'm going to hand it over to Iain to have an opportunity to explain the safety plan and the COVID Safety Coordinator role. In terms of using the toolkit, though, it was really important that it doesn't sit by itself necessarily. It's a checklist that should be reviewed and consider it in conjunction with the state sport. State government advice. And your sports advice.

Really, the importance of the Safety Coordinator comes out because it's their responsibility to undertake this analysis in in preparation to work with the committee in order to be able to determine the aspects of the checklist that are important to them.

And in fact, in some circumstances, the aspects of the checklist which aren't relevant for them. Complete the plan and ultimately double back and check and finalise the checklist. The online, this two of them, there's a detailed checklist for larger organisations. And there's a streamlined checklist. Now we've got lots of questions about what's a large organisation, what's a smaller organisation. There's no hard and fast rules for that.

The main difference between the two checklists, though, is they all to the detailed checklist, doesn't just look at the operational considerations, but also looks at the organisational considerations. So we know that COVID-19 has put pressure on governance and financial and legal and compliance and employees and volunteers. So the more detailed checklist is our volunteers and our club committees and our NSOs and SSOs an opportunity to understand how some of those considerations may play into any return to sport. It then goes through the operational considerations. And we've broken the operational considerations into four key key areas prevent, prepare, respond and recover. So the prevent phase is all about building out the safety plan. Under the leadership of the safety coordinator, the education and training that might go alongside of it for coaches, for managers, for participants and for parents. Stakeholder management and ultimately the personal infection control. The preparation and safety plan brings it to life. So what are you doing with your facilities? What are you doing with attendance? Training. Physical distancing. And the respond and recover phases in this scenario where a club does have a COVID case or there is some sort of outbreak. How are you going to deal with that? So it's thinking about those matters up front and preparing for them. So if you do have unwell participants, you do have notifications or you do have non-compliance. How are you going to deal with that? And it's dealing with all of those elements in those phrases, which is going to give us the returning participants and those volunteers who are taking on those coaching roles or refereeing roles confidence that the environment is safe and that we've turned our mind to all the aspects of sport that might be relevant.

It's nice to sort of kick start, I'm sure we're gonna. We've got some comments and stuff coming in already, which is great. Please send in your questions. Everyone is getting your head around this. Iain. Would you like us to to move us forward?

Oh, sure. Thanks, Peter. Nice to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. Well, Kate's asked me to speak on the Safety Coordinator role and the safety plan. Just a couple of other things I'd add to what Kate said at the outset there on checklists. Number of people have asked me exactly how do these checklists sit it within an overarching sporting organisations framework, i.e. a mandatory or voluntary? I think the answer to that is that ultimately a sport organisation needs to apply in response to what is ultimately a difficult issue and a major risk to his organisation, as much diligence as it can say. Well, that is not a mandatory basis to these plans. It's really important with a checklist. It's really important to consider getting getting into as much detail as your organisation resources really can allow you to do so. So if it was me, what I would do with these tools and I have the privilege of having helped to drive them, so I know exactly what's in them. But if I was sitting around a kitchen table or a committee table working out how to use these checklists, I would want to make sure that I'm doing is as much as is humanly possible to make sure that I am putting my organisation in the best position possible to respond well to to return to sport. So that would mean probably, regardless of size of the organisation, choosing to look seriously at adopting the detailed checklist because there is a deep dive into a lot of considerations for sport.

Having said that, resource capability, resource capacity's is obviously something that that we're aware of because of the nature of how sports are run so the the more streamlined checklist is equally a good tool to use, but it fundamentally just reinforcing what Kate said about how these checklists should be used. Our view is that the checklists, if combined with State Department or sport resources as well as resources, that your sport is cascading through, whether from the NSO or from the SSO or whatever the three different, and the AIS framework, I should throw in there. The Sport Australia, AIS documents, the sport documents and the state sport documents should be enough to put your sport or your club or your organisation into a position where you have everything you need to come out with a coherent return to sport plan or return to sport strategy. So. So that's where I would direct you to go with these these documents.

If you do or when you do, if when you choose to pick up a Sport Australia checklist, our preferred way for sports and organisations to use a checklist is to go through it to have a look at what the key topics are, then to go into the safety plan, which I'll touch on in just a second and get into the detail of the safety plan so that you do have a coherent and comprehensive and complete safety plan. Then go back to the checklist that you started with to make sure that you can check off all of the items have been considered and incorporate it into the safety plan as required. It might be that you don't need to check out what you don't need to adopt a particular item that's captured in the checklist. The way that shape is to set up is that you should notate that you have considered the issue and you haven't adopted it because of X, Y, Z factor, whatever it might be. There is a really important principle that sits within those checklists that people who work in the corporate world would understand around corporate governance is borrowed from the ASX corporate governance principles. It's the principle of, if not mine. So if you don't adopt something that's in the Sport Australia checklists, it should be clear to your organisation and to others why it why it was that you didn't adopt that particular particular item or issue. I should say though I'm very mindful that that what is in here is a lot of detail and that is that will have an impact on volunteers. The the overwhelming advice I've provided to a number of given parties is if you do choose to use the Sport Australia toolkit and I advise everyone strongly to do so, you should go all in. So you should really make sure you review the checklist. He's signing off on the checklist. If you're going to adopt the Sport Australia toolkit, it it's fair to say the Sport Australia can't really help you. And it's possible that you're not necessarily going through the level of diligence that the organisation that you represent might need to go through. I'm not saying it won't be, but it's possible that, you are not giving yourself the best chance, because ultimately the checklists do capture what we consider to be the widest range of issues that relate to attend to sport in any resources we've seen across the country today.

So I'm sorry, that was that was a bit of a commentary on the checklist themselves. The actual Safety Coordinator role, is a particularly key role within the Sport Australia toolkit concept. Now, I've asked if I can borrow a quote from her acting CEO Rob Dalton talks about a Safety Coordinator as being that the person that coordinates the party. And I think that's probably a really good way to think about it, because if you don't have anyone coordinating the party, you don't get the right drinks, you don't get the right food, the deejay turns up on the wrong address and those sorts of things. So really, from that context, it's it's fundamentally important to have that central authoritative person within the organisation who has that ability to be the point of contact for your members, your stakeholders, health authorities, and also the person that takes overall responsibility for the safety plan, both the delivery of the safety plan and also the implementation of the safety plan. So in many respects, it's a low like risk management. I mean, Coronavirus and COVID is a very large trigger that's triggered a lot of risks within risk registers across Australian sport. So if you if you like, you should just be adopting the same sorts of risk management techniques. You might to other major risks in your organisation, like my child safe child safeguarding as one example is like workplace health and safety is another example. I was in a in my daughter's basketball club locally, here, we we have a child safeguarding officer. A lot of organisations around the country do. And that's in response to a particular issue, obviously, that's emerged over the last few years. This is like that. It has to be like that.

It has to be a resource that is taking the response to COVID seriously and is helping Australian sport return to sport as well as it possibly can. Just picking up Kate's quote before, we have one shot at getting this right. So I think the best way to do that is by putting in place a COVID Safety Coordinator. The the there is an acknowldgement at Sport Australia's end, and I think that it does impose some hefty workloads potentially on the volunteer. Now we get that. But that's also a reason why Sport Australia's kept it a bit flexible. So rather than just make it one person and one person only, the organisation should adopt a safety co-ordinator or safety co-ordinator structure that works best for its organisation and might be one person. It might be one person who is overseeing it, some other people they can help with the delivery of the safety plan. But in in in either scenario, what should happen is that the organisation should put in place an appropriate level of support and an appropriate level of governance so that the committee, the management committee or the board of the organisation always has enough information as to how the COVID plan is is being prepared and also how the COVID plan is being implemented. The COVID Safety Coordinator doesn't need to be from any particular background. What we tend to say is that common sense is the best driver of identifying and recruiting the right person. So usually if somebody in the organisation who's got a lot of common sense, who's got the capacity to pick up an extra workload and drive drive through what can be quite complicated sorts of issues.

So while I wouldn't I think, I encourage, every every organisation to bring into play the COVID Safety Coordinator as quickly as possible. Just quickly moving forward, I know we've only got limited time, Peter, and we'd love to hear the questions that are coming out, but we can't see them through our platform. It's the safety plan itself. I think I think it's really important here that to acknowledge that while there is a template a safety plan, and it prepares sports well to create a good plan that considers all of the relevant operational elements. There are.

It always has to be subject to state law and all of this talk, as Kate said, is is subject to state government regulation and state government health advice in the COVID safety plan space. It does. And I touched on this a little earlier. It does get a bit complex where some state governments have already put in place some detail around the sorts of safety plans they need to see. Northern Territory has already got a safety plan concept up on their website. Same with Western Australia's government, so sports have to have to fill out certain types of topics within the government frameworks in those in that state and territory.

The challenge is that the safety plan questions that get asked to basically four or five questions about a physical distancing, how would you maintain that? It's about hygiene. It's about communicating to stakeholders that they're important topics. But it doesn't get into the other broader topics that are captured within both the Sport Australia checklist as well as the Sport Australia template safety plan. So, again, back to what I said before. There's always some value in doing the Sport Australia template a safety plan and turning that into your own safety plan and aligning it with what you have to do from a state government perspective.

I've just rabbited on for a little bit there. I'm quite happy to take some questions now on this, some more detail from Kate or I on any of those components. Yeah, well.

There's there's a couple of questions come in this relate to what you talked about, but maybe we spend a little bit because there is a two or three of them in the same lines. It's about the kind of skills that you might look for within a Safety Coordinator role. Someone suggested would sports trainers, accredited sports trainers be appropriate. And what kind of skill sets perhaps would suit that safety coordinator role?

Sport Australia Roles and Responsibilities document, which sits on the within the toolkit on Sport Australia website, doesn't make any particular qualifications mandatory, does suggest that a position description would be a good idea for this person. Bearing in mind the two main roles are to act as that their contact person and that liaison person and also be the person who can develop and deliver on a safety plan. So what you need is somebody who has has that ability to work across the organisation, has good relationships up and down the hierarchy. Is able to understand the complexity of managing the return to sport plan that they've got in place. So it could be it depends on the the organisation, the organisation's best place to work out who's the best person. And it could be a trainer. It could be it could be the hardworking secretary in a local club. It could be a volunteer family member who perhaps comes from an insurance background or a risk management background who puts their hand up to be appointed as a volunteer from outside of the existing executive committee to to step into that role and be held accountable for doing what needs to be done in that role. So we don't necessarily say you need to be od a certain background. But certainly, you know, if I was the chair of the committee, I'd want to make sure that the person who had that responsibility or that role was capable enough to be able to do it.

Kate you might have some some thoughts on that as well?

No, look, I think you covered it off well Iain, I mean, really, it's about someone who understands the full environment and operating reality of of the sport, not the club. So who understands the flow of people in and out of the facilities? Who understands where the change rooms are? Who understands the way the game's schedule so that they can provide advice with respective competition and training. So it's someone who can communicate and think through all of those practical reality is of what the the sport environment looks like.

Yep, yep, yep. I'll pose this question to you. Kate from Rowan O'Neil. Hi Rowan.

Any advice or for practical support that SSOs, state sports organisations, and or national sports bodies, NSOs, can provide community clubs associations to support the rollout of the toolkit?

It's a great question, Rowan. Different sports have taken a different approach to the way in which they're supporting SSOs and clubs to roll out the toolkit. So hockey, for example, has run a series of webinars online for their clubs to join. So any of their interested club committee members have been able to get online and undertake this training. Also, it's a really great idea to reach up through the hierarchy, so up through the SSO and the NSO, if you start to get a group of safety coordinators who want to actually come together and work together and seek advice from their peers and colleagues. So we've seen some sports going about setting up a leadership team, a safety coordinator, leadership team, and being facilitated either by the state sporting organisation or the national sporting organisation. So and we also have on the Sport Australia website, an enquiry form. So if you do have any questions or you do need support, that's something we can also do. We've got a really capable team and sitting at Sport Australia ready to respond to queries as quickly as we can to provide that support and create those solutions.

Excellent. Excellent. I've got a question here. Maybe we'll go back to Iain. But between the two of you there, I think it's a good one because there's been plenty of good resources produced in recent time by a number of organisations to support them in this time. So it's good to clarify this. Swimming NSW as an example, and Swimming Australia have put out national guidelines for restarting club environments. Do we go by that or by the toolkit?

I'm happy to tell you that one, and of course, I'm sure to go to Kate for her views. But as we said earlier, I think that this is real value. I mean, there's value in trying to cut through the various different sources. And you know the question is, is implicitly correct in saying that there is so many different different types of resources out there. And our take on this is that as a minimum, you also need to work out what your state government requires because they are dictating the when to return to play. In addition, it's really critical to get sport specific advice because every sport has its it's it's really interesting intricacies that Sport Australia couldn't. And the AIS for that matter, he has tried it, but has gone down a path of putting in place some specific considerations for each individual sport, but Sport Australia didn't want to get into a toolkit where we were trying to be all things to all sports. So what we want, what we think best in sports is to have the sport specific tools and the state government tools and Sport Australia does overlay over the top of this because it does really provide those thought starters that, as if you like, it does go very, very wide in terms of the types of issues that it captures. And Kate and I have been reflecting on this a little bit. We actually think it does capture a wider range of issues than most other resources that are out there at the moment. So that's not a bad place to start. If you really wanted to think of the spectrum of issues that you might need to take into account in devising your return to sport plan.

Did you want to add to that at all? No, no. Look, Iain covered that well.

OK. Another good one from a couple of really beauties coming up. Jak. Maybe I'll go to you Kate from Jak. Hi, Jak.

How do you suggest organisations handle situations where members of flagrantly flaunting the COVID safety guidelines?

Oh, gee. Jak, great question. Thanks for that one. Look, this is one of the we've talked about the attributes of a person's appointed to the Safety Coordinator role and the trust and delegation given to them by the executive committee and the organisation. So that this person actually becomes critical as they become the conduit for flagrant breaches or disregard of the COVID safety protocol, which any club or sport establishes.

So it's it then comes down to the executive committee of that club and the leadership, of the chair or the president to take that sort of behaviour on notice and deal with it, as you would any other member protection issue. Or any other complaint to do with behaviour that is unsatisfactory on our sporting fields.


Can I add something there too, just to prove the point we've made about the checklists capturing a wide range of information, one of the one of the considerations in the detailed checklist is to think about the protocols you might want to put in place if if things like social distancing rules wheren't observed. So I certainly certainly worth doing some scenario planning with regard to that. And with regard to a whole lot of other kinds of things that might come up when when your your the members of your club participants to come back together.

Yep, yep. A couple of people are asking, where are they? Where would where would they find the toolkit? Well, if you go to Sport Australia's website, I'm pretty sure it's on the front page there. You can't really miss it there. There's links to it from Play by the Rules as well. So have. Have a look there, too.

Maybe ask Iain this question. No one no one in our organisations wants to take on the role because no one wants to be liable if a break out occurs.

That's a statement as opposed to a question, Peter, but I can tell what the question is, look, thats right. This is a question I've been asked a fair bit around liability from this system.

The best response to the question of liability. I think he's to, is to to ensure that the organisations do everything reasonably practicable. If I can use that phrase. To put into place the best possible the best possible plan and the best possible arrangements for returning to work. Returning to sport. Now, of course, if you go through that process and an incident, a case of transmission does appear within your organisation, within your club, then provided you've been through that exercise doing what you can, what is reasonable, especially given your resources, then the liability question is a little bit easier to manage So, I think that the emphasis should be on on planning and preparedness as opposed to the back end response from liability. And then going back to Kate's observations earlier, I guess it's about the executive committee pulling together and encouraging that to be the mind set. So let let's make sure we have the best possible plan in place as opposed to worrying about liability down the track.

We've got a couple of questions around COVID Safety Coordinator training. Will they are there plans to have training? I've got an excellent suggestion too from Sean about maybe great to form a group of COVID Safety Coordinators who can present their ideas and what they've been through. That's probably a good idea for a future think tank, I think. Thanks very much, Sean. But there any ideas around training for safety coordinators as well.

Yes. Look, we are continuing to evolve as we receive feedback from the public about what they need to feel confident in implementation of the tool kit. And certainly the opportunity for Safety Coordinators to meet peer to peer is important and share their experiences as they're implemented. And not just the plans themselves. But once you're live and you're in the facilities and you know how you're having to adapt, and what are your experiences? What sort of advice can you provide? So we are looking at mechanisms to connect safety coordinators both within a sport as well as across the sporting level and certainly within geographical and jurisdictional parameters.

Yeah. OK. Well, I think we're going to start to draw it to a close and maybe I'll ask just to give a bit of a bit of a summary and some further any further practical advice. I think that's what people are looking for here, especially what's the next step? What's the next thing they can do, really, in terms of practises? Question without notice. But I'll post it anyway. To you maybe Iain. What's what's the what's the first thing that a club can do now to start consider the way forwar. From a planning point of view? I think it's to access the resources. One of the checklists and just go through it to see whether regardless of how far down the planning stages you are, you've you thought of some of the things that get thrown up in those checklists.

So that's from a planning perspective. The other thing I would say just just reflecting on the question from before Peter. One thing that's come out a lot in conversations that are totally gone into a different direction. This is about Safety Coordinators.The the the the issues arise about liability and where you don't have a Safety Coordinator. If there's a if there's a mishandling of the the delivery of a safety plan or even the mishandling of creating a safety plan that can be more fatal to a club than where you do have somebody appointed with accountability to drive forward. So now, in addition to accessing resources, perhaps, what I might say is, really think hard about the safety co-ordinator and think about who the right person is from within your exec committee or from within the membership of your organisation.


Oh, look, I think Iain's aids now. Get get on to the website. And if you've got any queries, please don't hesitate to put them through to us. We are here to support sports. We would like to thank Hockey Australia, congratulate their clubs and and state sporting organisations. If you do want some live case studies, I know that they've got some excellent ones as they've gone through this training and begun to roll out the safety coordinator role and give us some feedback. I mean, we'd love to hear your stories. We'd love to hear where this has gone well, and then we could share that. And you know, where it's gone with its good stories, not just the bad stories. They're really positive stories to get out to the community as well. So please don't hesitate to reach out with us to us with those stories.

Yeah. Yeah. Excellent. Thanks. Thanks, Kate. Yes. And I'm sure I'll certainly be looking at some case studies as well that we can put on to Play by the Rules when this starts to starts to happen more.

A couple of comments just to conclude, which are interesting, I think. John suggests says that Basketball Tasmania, are using biosecurity officers and provide and provide procedures and training there to biosecurity officers, suggest clubs in association go to their state body first for assistance as well.

So, yeah, sure. Reach out for assistance across all levels of sport as well as when you're going through the toolkit. It's better to work collectively, as we talked about earlier. I'm gonna draw it to a conclusion. I know it's short and sharp, but keep your questions and comments coming in because we will look at them afterwards as well and get back. Get back from Play by the Rules.

We are recording this. We always get that question here. We are recording this. So if you want to share it with your members and clubs, are you able to do that within the week? I pledge to get this edited and put on to Play by the Rules with the other Thing Tanks as well. Thank you very, very much for this special late night edition of Think Tank. To Kate Corkery from Sport Australia and Iain Roy. Thank you very much for giving us a really good headstart in getting a head around the toolkit there. And I'm sure there's still a lot more work for it to come. Thank you, Kate and Iain.

Thanks for having us.

And thanks everybody for tuning again. We are back live again on Friday, looking at child safety as well. So, like I said, we are recording these sessions and they will be up on Play by the Rules within the week. So thanks very much again for your attendance here. And I hope to see you on future Think Tanks.

These are extraordinary times, the presence of COVID-19 means that each and every one of us, each and every one of us is facing our toughest ever opposition, and although we stand apart.

If we work together as a team, as a team, and play by the rules, and play by the rules, we'll soon get back to playing and watching the sport that we love.

We need your support now more than ever, more than ever. Wash your hands and listen to the advice. If we play by the rules, we'll all get through this together.