Independent Review Community Update – February 2022

Anna RobertsonIndependent Review

To all members,

It’s been a year since the Independent Review of Gymnastics in New Zealand and we reaffirmed our commitment to make ongoing positive cultural changes in our sport with our Statement of Commitment.

During this time, we identified and secured exceptionally high-calibre individuals to be part of an Independent Appointments Panel which was formed in July 2021 to appoint a Steering Committee responsible for proposing changes and implementing recommendations from the Independent Review.

Following valuable consultation with experts and the gymnastics community during September/October 2021, the key competencies, skills, and experience were updated to reflect feedback received. This included changing the composition of the Steering Committee and the Gymnastics New Zealand Board willingly offering its place on the committee to allow for an additional gymnast member to strengthen community representation.

Expressions of interest for the available roles were advertised during October/November 2021. Applications considered and short-listed candidates were interviewed before final appointments were made in December 2021. We’d like to acknowledge everyone who contributed to this process.

The Steering Committee has now had a positive first meeting with activity underway on the workplan including in the areas of leadership and culture, policies, procedures, and regulations. Working recommendations into themes, prioritising work streams, and defining the principles and process of community, stakeholder, and expert engagement are also underway. These will be available to share within the next three months.

Though the formation of the Steering Committee took longer than anticipated, we all stand to benefit from the diverse range of lived experience and expertise, and we are delighted that their work has now started. During this time, we—together with the community—have been active in addressing several other themes that came out of the Review.

Safeguarding Processes and Policies

Significant support has been provided to clubs to achieve compliance of the Gymnastics New Zealand Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy. To help ensure our community is well-equipped to achieve long-lasting behavioural changes, we have provided practical support including forums, resources and templates, referrals to additional training, and 1:1 support. All clubs have a clear outline of the policy and processes required, including:

  • club safeguarding policy in place
  • identified safeguarding representative/s
  • all coaches and safeguarding representatives to have completed the Sport NZ Safeguarding module
  • all coaches police-vetted (a requirement since 2018)

Clubs have shown a real commitment to improving safeguarding and child protection within their spaces and are progressing well towards the completion of all elements.

Through this process, we have identified that youth coaches in our sport (under 18 years) have different needs. We have worked with Safeguarding Children to develop a safeguarding course specifically for young coaches appropriate to their age/stage that covers safeguarding from their unique perspective and how to keep themselves and the children they coach safe. The first course was held last week (2 February). In addition, the role of Youth & Foundation Developer has been added to Gymnastics NZ staff in recognition of the significant youth theme within the report recommendations.

We also recognise that to build a strong safeguarding culture, clubs need a good governance capability, to be able to build and implement their safeguarding policies and processes. Access to forums and resources have been provided to all clubs to help build capability in their clubs’ leadership space, and this has been supported with 1:1 support from relationship managers where needed.

Participant Voice

Centering the participant voice in all aspects of decision-making is a key part of our culture change. This has been identified as a key area of work within Balance is Better to ensure that there are pathways open to all participants to be heard, whether they are in the elite space, requiring a confidential space, coming to a career decision, or in a governance process.

Athlete Advisors have been added to each of the sport technical committees, to ensure a participant voice in the technical leadership space for all gymnastics sports. A central theme for the review report.

Coach Development

Coaches are an essential part of building a culture of safety and wellbeing. To support this Gymnastics NZ has recruited a Coach Development Manager. This role will expand on the existing Gymnastics NZ Education framework by providing development opportunities and support for coaches alongside existing gymnastics qualifications.

To date, work has started on

  • a coach development framework which identifies the needs of today’s tamariki and rangitahi, identifies current coach capability and existing gaps, and provides opportunities for continuous personal and professional development to fill those gaps
  • a coach development newsletter to strengthen connections between Gymnastics NZ and coaches and to share learning and development opportunities
  • coach forums including direct support to coaches during the extended lockdown in the second half of last year

Balance is Better and Good Sports

In early 2021, Gymnastics NZ signed up as a Balance is Better sport. This is Sport New Zealand’s evidence-based philosophy to provide quality and safe sport opportunities for tamariki and rangatahi across the entire sports sector. This work involves engaging with Sport NZ, other NSOs, and gathering insights directly from our community—coaches, parents, administrators, athletes—to develop a Balance is Better approach for gymnastics.

Over the past six months, Gymnastics NZ has started to lay the foundation for change, including discussions with Board and management, staff training, and planning. The next six months will be focussed on gathering insights from different groups within our wider community – coaches, parents, administrators, athletes, through surveys, focus groups, and conversations with clubs around what Balance is Better means for them.

This work will inform the development of the ‘Gymnastics approach to Balance is Better’. This research will also tie into the work of the Gymnastics NZ Steering Committee and the review of the Gymnastics NZ Strategic Plan which will take place in 2022.

Aligned with Balance is Better is Good Sports—one of the components of Sport NZ’s parent approach to sports. This programme aims to raise adults’ awareness about their behaviours in children’s sport, and if necessary, promote a positive shift in that behaviour. Gymnastics NZ is one of 15 sports that will be part of the 2022 national rollout.

Work ahead

Thank you to all of those who have supported this progress to date and those who will continue to contribute to positive change in our sport. We look forward to seeing the Steering Committee Work Plan which will outline themes, priorities, and methods of engagement with the community and experts for addressing each of the Independent Review recommendations.

We will publish updates as the Steering Committee releases them. You can check here at any time for the latest available information.


Quinton Hall                                                              Tony Compier

Chair – Gymnastics NZ                                      CEO – Gymnastics NZ