Sport Australia has launched a suite of practical resources that focus on giving community sporting clubs and associations a roadmap for the safest return to sport at all levels.
Sport Australia’s Return to Sport Toolkit, developed in partnership with Hockey Australia, comes with comprehensive checklists, adaptable COVID-19 safety plans and templates that can be used by sporting organisations at any level. It is in step with the AIS Framework for Rebooting of Sport in a COVID-19 Environment and the Australian Government’s National principles for the resumption of sport and recreation activities.
Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton said the Return to Sport Toolkit is primarily aimed at supporting the safe resumption of community sport, with many clubs and associations reliant on a dedicated workforce of volunteers.
“The main thing I want to emphasise to all sport and participants is that public health is the most important consideration – advice from your Government health authorities is paramount. I urge all sporting participants not to jump the starting gun without first the consent of your relevant State and Territory Government health authorities,” Dalton said.
“Australia’s sporting community is desperately keen to get back in the game and resume playing the sports they love, but we need to ensure that is done in a safe, responsible and low risk manner so that we can keep moving forward towards the full resumption of sport.
“Sport is extremely lucky to boast the largest volunteer base of any industry in Australia, and it’s fitting that we’re launching the Return to Sport Toolkit in National Volunteer Week. Sport Australia recognises that many of our sporting clubs and associations are led by these wonderful people who now face very complex decisions with limited resources to manage a safe return to sport.
Minister for Youth and Sport Richard Colbeck said: “Sporting clubs and organisations across Australia will play an enormous part in getting the nation back on track as we recover from the impact of COVID-19. “The safe return of competition relies on a responsible rollout where everybody follows advice and takes precautions.
“We have a big challenge ahead of us – but together the National Principles, the AIS framework and Sport Australia’s toolkit offer tangible advice to ensure community sporting groups are prepared to control and deal with the virus in this new era.”
Sport Australia’s Return to Sport Toolkit guides clubs and associations at every level to document their own COVID-19 Safety Plan and appoint a COVID Safety Coordinator to implement and oversee it. As part of the Toolkit, a checklist works through practical and progressive steps such as: relevant approvals from your Government and National Sporting Organisation; facilities management; training behaviours; hygiene protocols; management of illness and; communicating these processes with members.
“The Toolkit works through four stages of return to sport: Prevent, Prepare, Respond and Recover,” Dalton says. “In the Prevent stage, it concentrates on steps like getting your COVID-19 Safety Plan in place and communicating that with members. Practical steps in the Prepare stage are looking at safe facility practises, like hand-sanitisers, attendance registers at training and limiting shared equipment as much as possible.
“Sports also need to be prepared for illness management, noting things can change quickly in your local area, which is covered by the Respond and Recover stages.
“We thank the National Sporting Organisations for their input into this Toolkit, in particular Hockey Australia, and are confident sports will welcome it. But to help your sport return, Sport Australia also calls on everyone involved – participants, coaches, officials, administrators, volunteers, families and the broader community – to take individual responsibility and respect the health of all those around you.
“We know this is a tough time for sport and all Australians. But if we can each commit to getting through this challenging period together, we have every confidence sport will play a prominent role in lifting the nation’s energy and spirits again.”
The Return to Sport Toolkit can be downloaded at sportaus.gov.au/return-to-sport