With support from major Australian sporting codes and integrity units, eSafety has launched new sport resources to help stem the tide of online abuse from the grassroots to the elite level.
eSafety Sport is a one-stop-shop for administrators, coaches, officials, parents and competitors to learn ways to prevent and manage online abuse in community sport.
“With backing from the sports Australians love, we’re giving a red card to online abuse in sport,” eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.
“This insidious problem is casting a dark shadow over sporting activities that more than 11 million Australians enjoy every week. Targeted online harassment takes a mental and emotional toll on the very people who make sport happen: our coaches, umpires and players.
“There are long-established conventions around hurling threats and abuse in the stands when physically attending any sport. These same rules against abuse need to be applied online.
“While we might be disappointed with a particular call or play, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to unleash a torrent of online abuse. On the receiving end of every piece of online vitriol is a person: someone’s child, mum, neighbour, friend, uncle or sister. We cannot let our passion for the game blind us to the damaging impact of harmful online words and actions.”
eSafety Sport includes practical information on how to recognise online abuse, how to deal with online abuse, eight ways to stay safe online and promotional resources for clubs to download and show their support. It also includes tailored advice and scenarios for sports administrators, coaches and officials, athletes and competitors and sport parents.
Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, said the new resources would help individual clubs and teams change the online conversation for the better.
“The Albanese Government is committed to improving online safety for all Australians,” Minister Rowland said.
“Whatever your code, team or position, I strongly encourage you to use these new eSafety resources and encourage your teams, members and supporters to uphold values of respect, fairness and sportsmanship – both on the field and online.”
Minister for Sport, the Hon Anika Wells MP, said eSafety Sport would also help protect members of the sporting community known to be more vulnerable to online attacks.
“Athletes and sporting participants are increasingly targeted for online abuse and these web resources will be a vital tool to make the sporting sector safer,” Minister Wells said.
“There is also a worrying trend of online abuse towards female athletes. Sport Integrity Australia research found sportswomen received three times as many negative comments as men (27% versus 9%) and that over a quarter of all comments towards sportswomen were negative, sexist, sexualised, or belittled women's sports.
“These resources will enable our sporting participants to have safer online experiences.”
AFL Umpire Nathan Williamson said he hopes eSafety Sport inspires people to be more respectful online.
“Like everyone else involved in sport, we're human and we all have family and friends who care a lot about us. Hurling abuse at us doesn’t really achieve anything except make us feel rubbish, and makes our family and friends feel rubbish,” Nathan said.
“These resources have relatable advice for everyone at any level. If you're involved in a local sporting club as a player or official, eSafety Sport will help build your online safety skills to support you, your family and your connections.”
eSafety thanks the signatories to the Online Safety Statement of Commitment for their support and advice in developing eSafety Sport. We also thank Play by the Rules, Athletics Australia, the Office of Sport NSW and SportWest for their input and advice.
Visit eSafety.gov.au/Sport to access the community sport resources and online safety advice.