Safe Sport Framework

Swim club friends in a group hug

The safety of children and young people in our sport is paramount. We want swimming to be fun, enjoyable and safe for all. All of us in the Australian swimming community have a role to play in ensuring that we keep our proud sport as safe and enjoyable as possible. 

In 2018 the Safe Sport Framework (SSF) was implemented as a guiding document to keep all members safe, particularly children and young people. On June 15th, 2022, the National Integrity Framework (NIF) was introduced. Any new complaints or issues will now be dealt with under the NIF. Any old or existing/ongoing complaints will still be dealt with under the SSF. 

Safe Sport Framework legacy information

In 2020, Swimming Australia’s SSF was updated and became effective from 3 August 2020. These documents replace all previous versions of the SSF, and child and member welfare policies and procedures, and are binding on all of Swimming Australia’s Member Organisations and their members.

The SSF consists of two documents:

  1. Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy (matters or complaints concerning the safety and wellbeing of children or young people in swimming must be considered under this policy) and
  2. Member Protection Policy (this concerns matters relating to such things as discrimination, harassment, bullying, victimisation and abuse).

Both are available here.

Swimming Australia and its Member Organisations remain fully committed to the protection of children, young people and our members in our sport and encourages all clubs and members throughout Australia to familiarise themselves with these documents, and to raise the issue of child safety to everyone involved in swimming clubs.

National Integrity Framework

The Swimming Australia NIF consists of six documents:

  • Complaints, Disputes and Discipline Policy
  • Competition Manipulation and Sport Wagering Policy
  • Member Protection Policy
  • Improper Use of Drugs and Medicine Policy
  • Swimming Australia National Integrity Framework
  • Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy

For more information on the National Integrity Framework, please visit the Swimming Australia website.

Call Swimming Australia on (03) 9910 7010 if you have any child protection concerns or talk to your local club representative.

Safe Sport Framework (SSF) FAQ's

  • What is the SSF?
  • The Safe Sport Framework (SSF) confirms the shared responsibility we all have for keeping each other safe in swimming - children and adults alike. The SSF is a comprehensive policy and procedures document that details our shared responsibilities for protecting children and members' welfare. 

    In 2020, Swimming Australia’s SSF was updated and became effective from 3 August 2020. These documents replace all previous versions of the SSF, and child and member welfare policies and procedures, and are binding on all of Swimming Australia’s Member Organisations and their members. 

    All policies, procedures, responsibilites and associated resources (such as reporting templates) can be found on the Swimming Australia website.

  • What is our Safe Sport Commitment?
  • We* strive to:

    • provide a safe environment for everyone involved in our Sport;
    • take an inclusive approach in its activities; and
    • ensure the safety and wellbeing of Children or Young People in particular.

    ...we take seriously (our) positive obligation to educate and inform everyone involved in our Sport of each person’s responsibilities to:

    • protect and look after each other;
    • protect and look after Children or Young People, from Child Abuse and Grooming; and
    • create and maintain a child-safe culture and a culture of inclusion and safety that is understood, endorsed and put into action by all.

    *refers to Swimming Australia, Swimming NSW, areas, clubs and members inclusively; our joint commitment

  • What is a Member Protection Information Officer?
  • More information about the Member Protection Information Officer role can be found on this page.

  • What is abuse and how do I spot it at my club?
  • Abuse means physical, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and abuse of power that has caused, is causing or is likely to cause harm to a person’s well-being or development, whether in person directly or as the result of a publication viewable by any other person by any means.

    Examples of abuse you should keep an eye out for include:

    • bullying
    • humiliation
    • verbal abuse and insults
    • grooming
    • harassment (including sexual harassment)
    • discrimination
    • neglect
    • sexual exploitation.
  • What is bullying and how do I spot it at my club?
  • Bullying involves the inappropriate use of power by one or more persons or groups of persons over another less powerful person or group of persons, and is generally an act that is repeated over time.
    Bullying may have harmed, is harming or is likely to harm or endanger a person or a Child or Young Person.

    Bullying behaviours you should keep an eye out for at your club include:

    • Verbal (name calling, put downs, threats);
    • Physical (hitting, punching, kicking, scratching, tripping, spitting);
    • Social (ignoring, excluding, ostracising, alienating); and/or
    • Psychological (spreading rumours, stalking, dirty looks, hiding or damaging possessions).

    For the avoidance of doubt, bullying includes cyber bullying, which can also have lasting and damaging consequences.

  • What is grooming?
  • Grooming is a term used to describe what happens when a perpetrator of abuse builds a relationship with a Child or Young Person with a view to abusing them at some stage.

  • What do I need to be aware of regarding grooming behaviours?
  • For some perpetrators, there will be a lengthy period of time before the abuse begins. The Child or Young Person may be given special attention and what starts as an apparently normal display of affection can develop into sexual touching and then into more serious sexual behaviour.
    Other perpetrators may draw a Child or Young Person in and abuse them relatively quickly. Some abusers do not groom Children or Young People but abuse them without forming a relationship at all.

    Grooming can take place in any setting where a relationship is formed, such as leisure, music, sports and religious activities, or in internet chatrooms, in social media or by technological channels.

  • What is our Commitment to Children and Young People?
    • We are committed to providing Children or Young People with positive and nurturing experiences.
    • We will support families and communities to promote Children or Young People’s healthy development and well-being.
    • We will strive to ensure that Children or Young People are protected.
    • We will strive to ensure that Children or Young People are not exploited, abused or harmed during their involvement with any of our activities, programs, events or services.
    • We will listen to Children or Young People and address any concerns that they raise with us.
    • We will ask for consent from Children, Young People and their parents/carers before we seek out or provide information about them to any other individuals or organisation.
  • Who can make a complaint about a child or member welfare issue?
  • Complaints may be made by:

    • members, parents, swimmers, coaches, officials and clubs;
    • non-members;
    • persons in positions of authority;
    • other organisations; or
    • any person in the general community who has concerns about a person or their behaviour or conduct in swimming
  • Who do we raise a complaint with?
  • Complaints should be directed to a Member Protection Information Officer (MPIO) from the appropriate organisation (your club, your area, Swimming NSW or Swimming Australia), based on the nature of the incident you're reporting. Visit this page for more information.

  • What can complaints be about?
  • Complaints may be about an act, behaviour, conduct, omission, situation or decision that is in breach of the Safe Sport Framework. They may be about a:

    • Child or Young Person or an adult;
    • group or organisation;
    • single incident or a series of incidents;
    • seemingly minor issue or a very serious issue, such as harm to a Child or Young Person;
    • breach of our Child Protection Commitment Statement; or
    • breach by a member, athlete or person in a position of authority of our Code(s) of Conduct.
  • What information should you be prepared to report about an incident?
    • WHO was involved
      • respondent and complainant
      • witnesses
      • any known contact details
      • if a Child or Young Person was involved, the Child or Young Person’s age and parent/guardian details;
    • WHAT you observed or heard;
    • WHEN the concerning incident, behaviour or conduct was observed;
    • WHERE the concerning incident, behaviour or conduct occurred;
    • WHY you are concerned and the impact of the incident (i.e. injuries, others at risk of harm);
    • WHAT NEXT - if known, what the complainant would like to happen next and the outcome the complainant is seeking.
  • How should you respond when a Child or Young Person reports an incident to you?
  • The initial response is crucial to the well-being of a Child or Young Person reporting an incident. It is important for the person receiving the information to:

    • listen to, be supportive and do not dispute what the complainant says;
    • reassure the complainant and let them know that what has occurred is not their fault
    • ensure that the complainant is safe;
    • remain calm and do not express shock, panic or disbelief;
    • be honest and explain that other people may need to be told in order to stop what is happening;
    • ensure that what the complainant says is quite clear but do not elicit detailed information about the abuse
      • use objective, non-leading and non-suggestive questions that don’t put words into the complainant's mouth as much as possible;
    • make written notes during or as soon as possible after the discussion.
  • What is mandatory reporting?
  • There are certain circumstances where you will be legally required to report a complaint that you have received to the police. 'Mandatory reporting' refers to legislative requirements imposed on specific classes of persons to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to government authorities.

    If you have received a child protection complaint that includes disclosures of:

    • actual harm, abuse or sexual exploitation 
    • the risk of harm, abuse or sexual exploitation; or
    • breaches of the protection policies or Code of Conduct by persons in positions of authority

    this complaint needs to be reported directly to the police and to Swimming Australia, and treated as highly confidential.

    If you have reason to believe a child or young person is under immediate threat of harm, the police should be notified first.

  • What is mediation and when should you use it?
  • Mediation is a process that allows the people involved in a complaint to talk through the issues with an impartial person and work out a mutually agreeable solution.
    The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong and does not tell either side what they must do. Instead, he or she helps those involved to talk through the issues and makes sure that the process is as fair as possible for all concerned.

    Try mediation if:

    • both parties have had a chance to tell their version of events;
    • the senior person dealing with the complaint does not believe that any of the allegations warrant any form of disciplinary action; and
    • in the opinion of the senior person dealing with the complaint, mediation looks like it may work.

     Mediation will not be appropriate when:

    • the people involved have completely different versions of the incident;
    • one or both parties are unwilling to attempt mediation;
    • the issues raised are sensitive in nature;
    • there is a real or perceived power imbalance between the people;
    • there is a serious, proven allegation

    Serious allegations should not be mediated, even if both parties would like to attempt mediation. 

  • What are my club's roles and responsibilities in regards to implementing the SSF?
  • Clubs should strive to ensure that:

    • all persons in positions of authority understand their obligations.
    • the Child Protection Commitment Statement is implemented and adhered to amongst your members, staff, officials, volunteers and participants.
    • the development and implementation of required internal policy/work procedures and guidelines are in place to support Child or Young Person protection.
    • adequate resources are allocated to allow effective implementation of the Child Protection Commitment Statement.

    Clubs should also:

    • advocate and promote Child or Young Person rights, empowering and engaging Children or Young People in support of this Statement.
    • proactively share resources and experience in the development of child-safe initiatives in swimming as they are identified.
    • develop opportunities for regular discussion at all levels to support a culture of continuous improvement and accountability of Child or Young Person protection and Member welfare.
  • What's the best way for adults in my club to speak to children?
  • Swimming Australia’s SSF provides clear guidelines about how children and young people should be spoken to. Language and tone of voice used in the presence of Children or Young People should:

    • provide clear direction, boost their confidence, encourage or affirm them;
    • not be harmful – therefore, avoid language that is intended to be, or is received or likely to be received by the individual it is directed at or any other person as:   
      • discriminatory, racist or sexist;
      • derogatory, belittling or negative
      • threatening or frightening; and /or
      • profane or sexual.
  • What does the SSF say about sending electronic communications to Children or Young People?
  • Wherever possible, social media messages (such as text, email, Facebook or Instagram) sent to a Child or Young Person by a Person in a Position of Authority and/or adults in our Sport should be copied to their parent or carer.
    Where a parent or carer is not included in the communication:

    • Restrict such communication to issues directly associated with delivering our services, activity or program.
    • Limit the personal or social content in such communications to what is required to convey the service-related message in a polite, friendly manner.
      • In particular, do not communicate anything that a reasonable observer could view as being of a sexual nature.
    • Do not use such communication to promote unauthorised ‘social’ activity or to arrange unauthorised contact.
    • Do not request a Child or Young Person to keep a communication a secret from their parents or carers.
    • Do not communicate with Children or Young People using Internet chat rooms or similar forums such as social networking sites, game sites or instant messaging.
  • When is physical contact with Children and Young People appropriate and when isn't it?
  • Any physical contact with Children or Young People must be appropriate to the delivery of your club's services, events, programs or activities.

    Appropriate Physical Contact

    • fitting sporting equipment like goggles
    • correcting technique
    • assisting or comforting a distressed young person (based on the needs of the child)

    Inappropriate Physical Contact

    Contact is expressly prohibited by Persons in Positions of Authority if:

    • it would appear to have a sexual connotation;
    • is intended to cause pain or distress to the Child or Young Person;
    • is overly physical
    • is unnecessary
    • is initiated against the wishes of the Child or Young Person, except if such contact may be necessary to prevent injury, in which case
      • physical restraint should be a last resort
      • the level of force used must be appropriate to the circumstances, and aimed solely at restraining the Child or Young Person to prevent harm to themselves or others; and
      • the incident must be reported to a Senior Person as soon as possible.
  • How can I set appropriate behaviour boundaries for adults in my club?
  • It’s sometimes hard to define the boundaries of your role as a club committee member, coach, official or other adult in a position of authority. The line between being an adult in a position of authority and being a friend can blur. It's always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to interactions with children or young people.

    Except where expressly and specifically authorised by the relevant parents/carers of a Child or Young Person to act otherwise, Persons in Positions of Authority must not:

    • provide unauthorised transportation;
    • engage in activities with or seek contact with Children or Young People in our Sport; or
    • accept an invitation to attend any private social function at the request of a Child or Young Person in our Sport.
  • Can I take photographs of Children or Young People?
  • It’s OK to photograph a Child or Young Person if:

    • prior approval has been granted by the relevant Child or Young Person or their parent/guardian; or
    • the Child or Young Person or their parent/guardian has provided their verbal consent to the person proposing to take the relevant photograph, and
      • the context is directly related to participation in our Sport;
      • the Child or Young Person is appropriately dressed and posed; and
      • the image is taken in the presence of other Persons in Positions of Authority.


    • Store images (digital or hard copy) in a manner that prevents unauthorised access by others.
    • Destroy or delete images (digital or hard copy) as soon as they are no longer required.


    • Distribute images (including as an email attachment) to anyone outside Persons in Positions of Authority other than the Child or Young Person photographed or their parent/carer, without knowledge and approval of a Senior Person.
    • Exhibit images on your club's website or other digital media without parental/carer approval (or such images must be presented in a manner that de-identifies the Child or Young Person).
  • Is it alright to give another person's child a lift to and from swimming?
  • There are a few important guidelines to keep in mind when transporting Children and Young People. Children or Young People are to be transported by Persons in Positions of Authority only with prior authorisation from the Child or Young Person’s parent/carer. In circumstances where you have prior authorisation, you must inform another Person in a Position of Authority or a Senior Person that you will be providing transport for that Child or Young Person in each particular instance. Gaining approval involves providing information about the proposed journey, including:

    • the form of transport proposed, such as private car, taxi, self-drive bus, bus with driver, train, plane or boat;
    • the reason for the journey;
    • the route to be followed, including any stops or side trips; and
    • details of anyone who will be present during the journey other than Persons in Positions of Authority.
  • What are my club's obligations in regards to keeping records of complaints?
  • Clubs and Areas must keep records of all Complaints in keeping with the “Safe Sport Complaint Register Template” set out in the Safe Sport Resources section of the Swimming Australia website.
    Records of all complaints must be maintained for a minimum of 7 years.
    Records must be maintained in a secure and confidential place – preferably both in electronic and hard copy (if any) versions.

  • Do we have to adopt the Safe Sport Framework at our club?
  • Yes, you do. If you have not done so it's incredibly important you do so ASAP. We ask that you please table this for discussion at your next committee meeting.

    If you need further assistance with understanding or implementing the SSF, contact Sarah Koen or your local Club Support Officer.

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