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Support and acknowledgement for former AIS scholarship athletes through new ASC Restorative Program

20 July 2022

Former Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) scholarship athletes who experienced harm from inappropriate practices or abuse as a result of their time at the AIS will have access to a new Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Restorative Program launched today.

The ASC Restorative Program is an opportunity for scholarship athletes who were part of the AIS from 1981 to 2013 to share their experience safely and receive acknowledgment and support.

The Program will ensure these athletes are heard, supported and have an opportunity for their experience to be formally acknowledged by senior representatives of the ASC.

ASC Chair Josephine Sukkar AM said it was crucial for the ASC to acknowledge its past and commit to positively impacting the culture of sport now and in the future.

“Almost 9000 athletes held AIS scholarships between 1981 and 2013 and while we know many people had a positive experience, unfortunately some athletes were treated inappropriately.

“The Program has been established to help our former athletes report and raise concerns directly with the ASC about practices at the AIS that were detrimental to their wellbeing.”

ASC CEO, Kieren Perkins OAM encourages any former AIS scholarship athletes to contact the Program if they suffered harm from their time at the AIS.

“Abuse of any nature has no place in Australian sport. The ASC Restorative Program has been developed in consultation with restorative engagement experts and consultation with stakeholders and athlete representative groups. Learnings from athletes who have already come forward to share their stories have also been considered in developing the Program.

“We encourage you to contact the Program, which includes access to counselling and support services, the opportunity to engage with senior representatives from the ASC and AIS and a restoration payment for eligible individuals. Your engagement with the Program will be confidential and play a critical role in informing the practices of the sports sector in the future.”

The Program builds on the ASC Board’s formal apology to former athletes in May 2021. AIS Be Heard continues to support all current and former athletes, coaches, and staff across the Australian high performance sports systems.

Individuals can apply for the program via www.sportaus.gov.au/about/asc-restorative-program

* From 1981 to 2013, the AIS was responsible for High Performance Scholarships on behalf of the National Sporting Organisations. After 2013, the AIS no longer offered athlete scholarships, with funding going directly to the NSOs who managed their own scholarships. Notwithstanding, any high-performance athletes who want to raise any concerns from any point in time can call AIS Be Heard on 1800 565 965. This is a free, confidential and independent service.

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