Drastic move after horrific abuse claims

The Australian Human Rights Commission is investigating after at least 20 gymnasts went public this month with details of shocking abuse during their careers.

Gymnastics Australia asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to step in after the sport was rocked by sickening allegations of body shaming and bullying.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Chloe Gilliland (nee Sims), 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mary-Anne Monckton and two-time Olympian Georgia Bonora were among those who took to social media recently to speak out about the horrific treatment they allegedly endured.

Gymnastics Australia CEO Kitty Chiller released a statement on Thursday saying many of the stories being shared are "simply not unacceptable" and they "reinforced the need for more to be done to change the culture of gymnastics".

Chiller said Gymnastics Australia asked the Human Rights Commission to intervene and review the sport's culture.

"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," Chiller said.

"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 Commission will also review current policies and practices relating to the safety and wellbeing of athletes and the implementation and governance structures around those policies."

Chloe Gilliland (nee Sims) said she was often told she was “too heavy” and was called “stupid”.
Chloe Gilliland (nee Sims) said she was often told she was “too heavy” and was called “stupid”.

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll voiced his support for the review, which is scheduled to be completed by March.

"Committing to an independent review of policies, practices and governance structures sends a strong signal to the gymnastics community and indeed the broader sporting community of their (Gymnastics Australia) commitment," Carroll said.

Many of the Australian athletes shining a light on gymnastics' toxic culture said they were inspired to do so by the Netflix documentary Athlete A. The program covers disgraced former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to a maximum 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting multiple gymnasts under his care.

More than 330 women accused Nassar of abuse while he worked for USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University. High profile American Olympians like Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney were among those who helped bring Nassar to justice.

While none of the Australian gymnasts going public have raised allegations of sexual abuse, the changes underway in US gymnastics have clearly had a ripple effect through the sporting community Down Under.

 

Originally published as Drastic move after horrific abuse claims


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