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Great experiences start with safety-first


Great experiences start with safety-first


Father and son on a field holding a soccerball

Allowing young people to be active in a safe environment extends to funding applications for Auckland Regional Sport Trust, Aktive, ensuring good practice flows externally.    

As part of a focus on safeguarding, Aktive requires those receiving Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa funding to have specific safeguarding policies in place and complete online safeguarding modules.  

Sports Manager Simone Spencer says this focus on safeguarding has seen Aktive implement its own initiatives in-house and support other regional sports organisations to do the same, so impacts are felt throughout its communities. 

“The key is understanding that, in terms of having good culture, it starts with your own organisation and flows out from there,” says Simone. 

“Safeguarding isn’t an add on, or a nice-to-have, it’s essential, and our RSOs recognise that it’s foundational to an organisation in having a great culture,” says Simone. 

Aktive worked in collaboration with regional sports organisations (RSOs) and Sport New Zealand on the national rollout of the Good Sports® National Parent Project, a culture change initiative.  

Simone says through this process it became apparent that safeguarding also needed to be addressed. 

“It’s our commitment to young people to ensure the environment they’re engaging in is safe for them.” 

Aktive has updated and refreshed all of its own safeguarding and child protection policies. Staff are required to complete SportNZ’s online safeguarding modules, which are now also part of the staff induction process. 

“It connects across all our areas of work and we need to live and breathe it - it’s making sure we have an integrated approach, not just a compliance scenario, it’s addressing culture in how we behave, the attitudes we have when engaging with young people who are participating in sport…” 

“It’s our commitment to young people to ensure the environment they’re engaging in is safe for them.” 

Aktive is using its own experiences to help upskill other regional sports organisations through webinars, workshops, forums, resources and promotion of SportNZ’s online safeguarding modules. 

And that, in turn, is filtering down to other sporting bodies like Northern Region Football, clubs at grassroots level and their communities. 

“Safeguarding is so important, you’ve got to have processes in place so that if something happens you are equipped to manage whatever it might be,” says Simone. 

“It’s a two-pronged approach, it’s keeping our young people safer, but it’s also making sure it’s safe for the adults engaging in these environments too, and that they know how to keep themselves safe.” 

“It’s about what is acceptable, how to behave on the sideline, conversations on the car ride home in terms of what’s being said, how a coach interacts with young people, do they know they shouldn’t drive them home alone, what to do when someone’s photographing kids at an event… it’s helping people to understand the breadth of that work.” 

As New Zealand’s largest regional sports organisation, Northern Region Football (NRF) is prioritising and progressing its work in the safeguarding space. 

Community and club support manager Carl Fenton has taken on a role as NRF’s safeguarding officer. 

Having completed SportNZ’s safeguarding module and FIFA’s own safeguarding and child protection training, Carl is now handing that knowledge on to the 73 clubs that come under his umbrella. 

A number of clubs have safeguarding officers in place, or are assigning club members to this role, and using the information and templates Carl’s passed on to create their own safeguarding policies and initiatives. 

“We’re all responsible for providing a safe environment for children to play in, they have a right to turn up to football, enjoy the experience and go home safe,” says Carl.  

“A great experience has to start with safety first.” 

While the safeguarding journey is still in its infancy, Carl hopes that in a year’s time all NRF clubs will be confident to identify any harmful situation, and know what to do if it arises. 

“If the one thing they know to do in a situation is pick up the phone and call the appropriate person and ask for advice, then that’s a massive step forward.” 

Carl says he is grateful for SportNZ’s support in progressing safeguarding through its online learning tools. 

“Developing partnerships so individual codes aren’t having to do all the work themselves makes it easy for us, and I’m thankful for that.” 

For other organisations keen to progress their safeguarding work, Simone says it’s not a difficult task. 

“Have a look at what you’ve already got in place, make sure those policies are fit-for-purpose and up-to-date, and that you’ve got people in those child safety representative roles who are passionate and aware of what needs to be done.” 

If your organisation is looking for help and support, visit Sport NZ’s Integrity Guidance Portal for more helpful resources. 

If you require an accessible version of any content on the site please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

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