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Gymnastics Australia Launches Independent Review Following Abuse Allegations

G
ymnastics Australia has announced the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) will conduct an independent review into its “culture and practices” following allegations of abuse from a number of gymnasts.

The review comes after a number of conversations in recent weeks since the release of Netflix documentary, ‘Athlete A’, on the former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassars’ molesting and abuse of young female gymnasts.

Since the release of the documentary, a number of Australian gymnasts have spoken out about abuse in sport, with former Commonwealth Games silver medallist and three-time world champion Mary-Anne Monckton saying the documentary brought up old, painful memories.

“I am scared to share my story, but at some point, someone has to stand up for the athletes,” Monckton said in a post on her social media.

“It (Athlete A) brought up a lot of old memories, painful ones that I had pushed down so deep… the abuse (physical, mental and emotional) needs to stop, or at least be stamped out of our sport.

“I, like so many others, have experienced body shaming, have had food withheld, been yelled at until I cried (even as an adult athlete, which is downright embarrassing), and been manipulated and ‘forced’ to do things that I was not physically ready for our capable of doing, which ultimately led to career-ending injuries,” she said.

Gymnastics Australia chief executive, Kitty Chiller, said in a statement there needs to be a culture change if gymnastics can be “trusted, respected and celebrated”.

“Many of those experiences are quite simply not acceptable,” Chiller said in response to the Australian gymnasts sharing their experiences with abuse.

“The Commission’s [AHRC] independence ensures the integrity of the review and the commitment made by everyone at Gymnastics Australia, to genuinely listen and learn from our athletes and the gymnastics community.

“It also provides confidence to those who have more to contribute or who have not yet spoken, that their experiences will be heard by an independent team of professionals to inform future practice.

“The review will build an understanding of the culture of gymnastics in Australia and any barriers there may be in reporting behaviours that go against what we stand for, zero tolerance of any form of abuse,” she said.

The review is expected to be finished by early 2021, starting with the AHRC facilitating a series of listening groups, conducting interviews with key stakeholders and seeking written submissions, with the process open to athletes, parents, coaches, staff, volunteers, and administrators.

Gymnastics Australia said it would offer mental health support to any athletes in need during the review and as they look to rectify and create lasting change.