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Basketball Australia Responds To “White Boys’ Club” Claims

T
he Australian Human Rights Commission recently claimed Basketball Australia (BA) has a “white boys’ club” mentality limiting opportunities for black players on and off-court following a racial equality review.

The Commission, as part of the review, received 21 confidential submissions from past and current national players, coaches and family members, as well as interviews with administrators and a focus group, in order to deliver 12 recommendations to the national sporting organisation.

As part of the findings, one participant was quoted saying: “I feel like it’s very white, male and… like an old boys/girls club.”

“Obviously a severe lack of diversity throughout different appointments whether it be at an administration level or coaching.

“The culture of BA has always been one that has been very focused on ‘white boys’ club’ ties without much opportunity for others,” the participant said.

In response to the report, Basketball Australia chief executive, Jerril Rechter, said action has already been taken to act on the recommendations.

“The Black Lives Matter social movement asked the world to look inward and act to support the delivery of racial equality, and that’s exactly what Basketball Australia did by approaching the Australian Human Rights Commission to undertake this independent review,” Rechter said.

“For decades, Australian basketball has been enriched by people of colour and by undertaking this review, Basketball Australia took a position of leadership in acknowledging that as a governing body we need to ensure the organisation reflects our diverse community.

“The findings and recommendations of this review are a call to action for Basketball Australia to improve its culture and its structural systems to build an organisation and a sport where everyone can grow, develop, progress and feel included.

“Led by the board, Basketball Australia has committed to adopting and implementing the recommendations within the report, which will also feed into the organisation’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.

“We hope the review will also be of relevance to all organisations across the basketball community, with many of the recommendations relevant at state and territory and community levels.

“In some respects we do really well… if you look at some of our players in the national teams and the depth of talent we have… and the true diversity that sits around that, you would think that we were doing quite well.

“But if you start to peel back the layers you can see that actually that’s not the experience for everybody in the organisation.

“We’ve heard through the review the stories of many of the players who actually came out from America during the 80s and 90s, who were often people of colour… they didn’t feel included and we don’t think that has changed dramatically,” she said.

Within the review, the report claims: “Change requires a ‘whole of ecosystem’ commitment to be effective rather than symbolic gestures that paper over systemic or institutional hurdles to genuine inclusivity.”

The recommendations in the review are split between three key focus areas: Leadership and Governance, Cultural Safety, and Inclusion and Pathways for Progression.