[Svrilist] Respectful Behaviours - People in Sport [Posting: Angela Williams]

Liz Dartnall svri at mrc.ac.za
Mon Jul 24 08:50:42 SAST 2006


Hello everybody out there,

I just wanted to let you know of a project that we completed last year...

In mid 2004 an allegation of sexual assault of a woman by two of our 
elite Australian Football League (AFL) players was made public via the 
media. Thankfully this prompted interest from the community, specialist 
groups and the leading sporting body (AFL) who decided to make a series 
of commitments to preventing sexual violence against women (men and 
children). One such commitment involved the provision of an education 
program to all AFL players throughout Australia and to the individual 
clubs' coaching staff and other officials. The education program 
entitled 'Respectful Behaviours - People in Sport (Adult Sexual 
Assault)' commenced in March 2005 and was delivered to approximately 900 
people (the overwhelming majority men). It was a program designed to a) 
increase community awareness of the incidence/prevalence of sexual 
assault, b) debunk popular myths surrounding sexual violence, c) 
establish an understanding of consent (free agreement) and the ways to 
negotiate such in a sexual relationship, d) create awareness of team 
dynamics (including the role of the bystander) whilst promoting 
individual principles in a group environment, e) see sexual violence (or 
the threat of) from a victims perspective and most importantly f) 
emphasise the significance of respect for others.

It was an intensive program with excellent player feedback. The 
motivation to prevent sexual (and other) violence in our community meant 
that at least 1 out of 5 of the players agreed to becoming a mentor on 
this issue. Within the playing group there were a number of disclosures 
by players about themselves or someone they were close to, and not 
surprisingly when asked "how many of you know of someone (yourself, 
family member or close friend) who has been sexually assaulted/raped?" 
at least 1/3 or more commonly ½ of players responded in the affirmative.

I delivered the program with a colleague who works with male sexual 
offenders in the juvenile justice system - Patrick Tidmarsh. Together we 
have gained an enormous amount of information and experience in 
educating males on the prevention of sexual violence. We are looking 
forward to participating in the future of such education programs and of 
course the 'next step' from here. Please feel free to contact me if you 
would like to discuss any aspects of this training program or pass on 
your experience in similar situations. For further information 
pertaining to the AFL's approach to sexual violence, harassment and 
discrimination - a policy entitled 'Respect and Responsibility' - see 
www.AFL.com.au <http://www.afl.com.au/>

Key elements of the policy, which was developed in conjunction with the 
Victorian Government's Statewide Committee to Reduce Sexual Assault and 
Office of Women's Policy are:
1. Introduction of model anti-sexual harassment and anti-sexual 
discrimination procedures across the AFL and its 16 Clubs.
2. Development of organisational policies and procedures to ensure a 
safe, supportive and inclusive environment for women.
3. Changes to AFL rules relating to conduct unbecoming which cover the 
specific context of allegations of sexual assault.
4. Education of AFL players and other club officials with avenues for 
dissemination of the program to the community level being explored.
5. The dissemination of model policies and procedures at the community 
club level.
6.  Development of a public education campaign.

Kind Regards,
Ange
Dr Angela Williams
Forensic Physician
Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine
11 Moore St, Southbank VIC 3006
Ph: (03) 9684 4480
Fx: (03) 9684 4481


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