CALLING ALL EQUESTRIANS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED BULLYING

PRESS RELEASE -3.5.2018

Equestrian riders, officials and volunteers who have been impacted by failed member protection processes are being urged to contact Senator Rex Patrick and share their experiences.

Equestrian Australia is one of only five elite sporting bodies, heavily funded by the federal government that the South Australian Senator has put on notice to investigate bullying and failed member protection concerns.

The other governing bodies under scrutiny include Athletics Australia, Swimming Australia, Hockey Australia and Cycling Australia.

EA has received $6.3 million of ASC federal funding between 2015- 2017 but is currently facing criticism in social and mainstream media for not adequately serving its membership base and not enforcing member protection policies.

Hannah Brooks, a former committee member of Sydney International Horse Trials, which is underwritten by Equestrian New South Wales, set up the Stop Bullying In Equestrian Sports support group after dissatisfaction with Equestrian Australia’s failure to enforce its own member protection process.

“I dedicated hundreds of hours as a volunteer and did so under the assumption I would be protected if ever I was affected by a breach of EAs member protection policy…this was a false assumption,” Hannah said.

“Despite escalating my concerns to state board level, there was no satisfactory outcome – to the contrary, for raising an issue and standing firm I was treated as someone who had betrayed the sport.”

“It would appear that EA and its state branches are overwhelmed in the administration of member protection best practice, something that is at odds with the requirements of Australian Sports Commission funding.”

SBIES has over 3,500 Facebook followers and has become a frontline support service for many traumatised participants of equestrian sports, something that required professional advice to handle.

Hannah said personal stories that have been shared privately with SBIES range from ‘unfair and sad’ to ‘totally horrific’, and that it is essential for Senator Rex to receive direct feedback about the toxic culture in equestrian sports.

“Our recent SBIES survey indicated that 85% of people who participated in equestrian sports have been bullied or experienced bullying. Even more disturbing is the fact that 47% of respondents did not report the bullying.”

“Equestrians have given up hope that their bullying and harassment complaints will be heard in a fair and impartial manner, or that any disciplinary action will be taken to stop the behaviour” Hannah said.

“These questions on notice in the Senate are one of the best opportunities to make a difference to the governance of equestrian sports. It’s time for these riders’ stories to be heard – so we can bring about a positive change and grow the sport”, she said.

If you have been bullied or harassed participating in equestrian sports – please contact Senator Rex on senator.patrick@aph.gov.au and share your story.

Click – For the full list of Senate Estimate Committee questions

(See questions 106-117 from Senator Patrick)

Contact Hannah from SBIES on hannah@hannahbrooks.com.au  or 0412 257 882

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Photo Credit: Hannah Brooks

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