PRESS RELEASE – 21.03.2018
Equestrian Australia is under pressure to reform following the damning findings of a review of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), given a similar governance model used by its Australian counterpart.
BEF is facing the potential the withdrawal of £21m of government funding if it does not urgently clean up a culture characterised by ‘bullying and elitism’ and a failure to modernise, according to a recent review.
Similar themes of bullying and elitism have plagued Equestrian Australia in recent times, with a Facebook and Instagram support campaign called Stop Bullying In Equestrian Sports (SBIES) growing to several thousand in a few months.
Initially aimed at the grass-roots participant, the SBIES pledge campaign quickly gained the attention of high-profile riders including Olympic medallists Megan Jones, Sam Griffiths, Olympian Lyndal Oatley and Australian World Equestrian Games team member, Brett Parbery.
A UK’s equivalent support Facebook campaign, Not On My Yard, has almost a thousand fewer followers than the Australian-based SBIES, suggesting that the problem might actually be worse downunder.
The founder of SBIES, Hannah Brooks, said that a survey commissioned by the Australian-based equestrian sports support group has received overwhelming support from hundreds of equestrians.
“I thought we would be lucky to get a hundred surveys completed but we have already had over 800 people respond. Bullying is far more far-reaching than anyone anticipated”. Currently, 85% of survey respondents report being bullied or witnessing bullying at horse competitions or associated activities. The problem appears to be across the board, from grass-roots pony club to high-level administration of equestrian bodies”. Hannah said
Last year SBIES sought feedback from Equestrian Australia in reference to these alarming survey findings, however, the organisation has yet to respond to this request.
In addition, Brooks says the SBIES page has become a frontline support service for equestrian enthusiasts, many of whom have been left so traumatised by their experiences they have walked away from the sport.
“The stories that people are sharing, some for the first time, are truly shocking. The impact on people’s wellbeing is alarming. As a small group of volunteers, SBIES simply doesn’t have the resources to cope with the sheer volume of messages and requests we are receiving from equestrians traumatised by bullying, harassment, and favoritism. The governance in the sport is clearly broken,” Hannah said.
Despite the widespread incidence of bullying and harassment in the sport – between 2012-2016 Equestrian Australia received $9.5 million in Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) funding.
“With the issues in equestrian sports in Australia directly mirroring the situation in the UK – it’s time for Australia to clean up its own backyard, reform the governance of the sport and address the problems of bullying and elitism, once and for all”, Hannah said.
SBIES is planning to include the findings of its bullying survey and other feedback in a report being prepared for the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), Australian Sports Commission (ASC), Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and State and Federal Sporting Agencies.
SBIES is currently seeking feedback from the public for this submission.
Contact Hannah Brooks from SBIES on firstname.lastname@example.org
Take the SBIES Survey HERE
Follow SBIES on FACEBOOK
Follow SBIES on INSTAGRAM