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Kate Palmer Says Australian Sport’s “System Is Broken”

F
ormer Sport Australia CEO, Kate Palmer, has discussed Australian sport’s apparent systematic problems, claiming “the system is broken”.

The comments come following the claims from Olympic swimmer, Madeline Groves of “misogyny”, “body shaming”, and “medical gaslighting” from Swimming Australia, which led to Swimming Australia launching an all-female independent review to investigate the concerns.

Palmer, who remains the only woman to lead Australia’s top governing body for sport since its creation, said the under-representation of women in sports, particularly in high-performance coaching positions, is reflective of the ‘broken system’.

“For a long time we have focused on fixing the women, the idea that they need mentoring, courses, a program,” Palmer told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

“At the end of the day, the system is broken.

“This is not new.

“This is the Australian sports system.

“It has been like this since the early days of the AIS when the organisation was run by men mainly for men and women were treated as second class.

“There is more to come in all this, I think,” she said.

Palmer also claimed high-performance sport in Australia is a “boys’ club” and there are cultural barriers in place to stop women from reaching administrative and coaching leadership positions.

“To break into that boys’ club is really hard,” Palmer said.

“There is no space for you, the environment is not great and if you want to have a life or a family it is even harder.

“There is not a cohesive strategy in this country for changing women’s participation in leadership in sport.

“It is all ad hoc,” she said.

“[The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is an] organisation which is itself male-dominated, especially in the high-performance area, and quite misogynistic,” Palmer said, discussing how the AIS distributes high-performance funding for sports and her departure from Sport Australia when the board decided to split the organisation in two.

“I found it extraordinarily frustrating the way women have to survive in that system.

“[My departure from Sport Australia] had nothing to do with me being a woman.

“It had a lot to do with men, power and politics,” she said.

Earlier this year, Palmer was named the CEO of OneAthletics for one-year to lead the merger between Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia.