Good Governance | Integrity | Athlete Development & Wellbeing | Health & Safety
Download Platform PDF: AAA Policy Platform PDF
A - Physical Health
The AAA stands for sporting workplaces that protect the physical health of athletes. The unique risks of sport require greater vigilance, and not the passing of those risks onto the athletes.
- Training Athletes should not participate in their sport unless their club/team includes them in a regular conditioning program designed specifically for their sport, of which rest must be an integral component.
Immediately prior to competition, clubs/teams should ensure that athletes are properly prepared for their sports through, for example, stretching, warming up and adequate hydration.
- Rules of the Sport Rules of sports must be implemented, enforced and/or changed for the wellbeing and safety of athletes.
- Protective Clothing and Equipment Sports must mandate, as appropriate, the wearing by athletes of correct footwear and of protective pads, protective eyewear, mouth guards, helmets, gloves and other safety equipment.
- Recovery Injuries must be adequately rehabilitated before an athlete continues to participate.
- Venues Clubs/teams must not compel athletes to train or play in unsafe venues, such as on poor, uneven or slippery surfaces, or on grounds without padded fixtures or safety netting, or that have tripping hazards or sharp objects.
Minimum Medical Standards
- Medical Examinations Prior to an athlete’s first playing season with a club or competition season with a team, the club/team must perform a full medical examination on the athlete. No athlete may compete until a doctor has certified that the athlete is fit for competition. At the end of each playing season or competition season, the club/team must perform a thorough medical examination of each athlete appropriate to the sport and to the individual player’s medical and injury histories. Upon an athlete’s retirement, delisting and/or end of final contract, the club/team must complete a full medical examination and shall provide the athlete with a full report of his or her medical condition and any indications of issues that may arise in the future.
- Club/Team Doctors and Consultants Each club/team must have a doctor certified by the Australasian College of Sports Physicians or Sports Doctors Australia as one of its doctors. Each club/team must have consultants who are board certified in orthopaedic surgery, neurology, cardiology, nutrition, and neuropsychology.
- Relationship Among Athlete, Club/Team and Doctor Doctors and athletes are in a fiduciary relationship. Accordingly, doctors must place an athlete’s interests before those of the club/team, even where the club/team pays for treatment. Doctors’ duties, including the duty of patient-doctor confidentiality, are due to the athletes. Doctors may only disclose information to a club/team that the athlete has authorised the doctor to disclose. If a club/team doctor provides information to a club/team, he or she must provide the same information to the athlete. If an athlete who is fit to compete suffers from a condition that could be aggravated by continued performance, the doctor must advise the athlete.
- Treatments/No needles Any treatment provided to an athlete (including supplements and drugs, but not including physiotherapy and massage) must be approved by the club/team doctor and properly recorded. Athletes must not receive injections other than by the club/team doctor or other medically qualified practitioner. Genetic testing is prohibited.
- Club/Team Trainers Each trainer must hold a level 2 Sports Trainer certification from Sports Medicine Australia or a tertiary degree in sports conditioning or equivalent from an accredited university or institution.
- Club/Team Physiotherapists Each club/team must have at least one licensed physiotherapist available immediately prior to, during, and immediately after each training session and match/competition. There should be a sufficient number of physiotherapists to provide prompt treatment to each athlete.
- Match/Competition Requirements Each team/club must have its own doctor at a match/competition. In every sport in which there is physical contact between athletes, each club/team must have at least one doctor qualified to diagnose concussions, such as with the SCAT 3 assessment tool, at each match/competition. This doctor must apply a graduated return to play protocol, such as set out in the Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport at the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport Held in Zurich, November 2012. At each match/competition, there must be a dedicated ambulance and first aid appropriate to the types of injuries that may occur in the relevant sport. There must be a stand-by ambulance available within five minutes of the match/competition which will attend if the dedicated ambulance is required for transport.
- Medical Records Club/team medical staff must maintain accurate records of all illnesses, injuries, physical complaints, diagnostic tests, medical advice provided and treatments. These records shall be available for review and copying by the athlete. Club/team medical staff must provide all assistance necessary in connection with athletes’ insurance claims. Club/team medical staff must keep records in a secure and confidential manner and comply with all relevant laws and regulations regarding confidentiality of medical records.
- Second Medical Opinion An athlete has the right to a second medical opinion by a doctor of his or her choosing. If there is a difference between the opinion obtained by the athlete and that of the club/team doctor, the second opinion will prevail unless unreasonable.
- Surgeon of Choice Any athlete who requires surgery has the right to select the surgeon who will perform the surgery. The club/team may require the athlete to consult the club/team doctor and give due consideration to the club/team doctor’s recommendations. If the club/team would be required to pay for the surgery if performed by the club/team surgeon, then the club/team will pay for the surgery even if performed by a surgeon selected by the athlete.
- Minimum Medical Standards The medical standards prescribed are minimums only. A governing body is free to require greater athlete protection by its clubs/teams.
B - Mental Health
The AAA stands for the protection of athletes’ mental health.
An athletes’ age and the level of stress inherent in sporting contests increases the risk of mental illness. Moreover, mental health and physical health have substantial connections; physical issues, such as injury, may affect mental health, while mental health issues, such as depression, may increase the likelihood of physical injury.
Addressing any underlying mental illness of an athlete must also take priority should a sport be contemplating disciplinary action against that athlete.
C - Social Wellbeing
The International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation agree that social wellbeing is a core occupational health and safety issue. The AAA stands for this approach within Australian sport.
The AAA has a policy designed to advance the social wellbeing of elite athletes (refer III. Athlete Development and Wellbeing).
Defining social wellbeing as a health and safety issue means that sport must change its approach to an essential issue which, for too long, has been a low priority evinced by the lack of investment and resources.
As employers, sports governing bodies have a duty of care to provide a workplace that is free of any risk to an athlete’s social wellbeing. That duty is breached where an employer makes demands that prejudice the social wellbeing of an athlete, such as compromising the athlete’s education or professional and personal development outside sport.
D - Injury Compensation
The AAA stands for providing treatment and support for injured athletes. Athletes should not bear the costs alone; stakeholders who accept the benefits from sport should contribute to the costs. Juristictions should immediately revoke any law which excludes athletes from the protection of Workers Compensation Legislation.
Proposal for a National Sportscare Program
The AAA proposes a program for athletes which includes the following:
- oversight by an independent Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson, two employer representatives, such as nominees of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) and two employee representatives nominated by the AAA
- the requirement that employers provide coverage for any athlete who is not otherwise adequately covered by Workers Compensation
- the ability of employers to provide voluntary coverage for any athlete who is not otherwise adequately covered by Workers Compensation in his or her state, but does not qualify for mandatory coverage
- commencement of benefits the earlier of 4 weeks after a work-related injury or the end of the athlete’s contract. Benefits to be paid to the employer while the athlete is under contract and to the athlete thereafter
- benefits of:
- payment of all medical costs not covered by Medicare that arise from the injury regardless of whether the athlete continues to be an employee and/or when the athlete ceased to be an employee of the employer
- payment of an athlete’s contract salary, match fees, bonuses, additional services contracts and the like for a minimum of 104 weeks from the date of the injury so long as the injury prevents the athlete from returning to employment in the league or competition in which he or she was employed when he or she suffered the injury. The athlete must be taking steps to recover and rehabilitate from the injury—benefits are offset against income from employment that the athlete would not have earned if he or she had not been injured
- for career-ending injuries, a lump sum payment based on the athlete’s age and salary to enable the athlete to meaningfully deal with the injury and transition into his or her post sporting career
- no exclusion for pre-existing injuries
- the ability of employers to top-up coverage so that an athlete may receive his/her full salary after the expiration of his/her playing contract
- death and disability insurance for catastrophic injuries (such as total or permanent disabilities) or death.