Former WAIS gymnasts to be offered acknowledgement payments

  • Cook Government to offer individual acknowledgement payments of $15,000 to former Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) gymnasts who suffered harm
  • Payments acknowledge impact of past coaching practices on children and young people
  • Counselling sessions to be funded for former gymnasts who are taking part in the ongoing restorative and reconciliatory process and for acknowledgement payment applicants

The Cook Government will offer acknowledgement payments to gymnasts who suffered physical and/or emotional harm while taking part in the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) coaching program that ran from 1988 to 2016.

The payment scheme is part of the Cook Government’s ongoing response to a Sport Integrity Australia review of the WAIS Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Program, which found former participants had suffered abuse and/or harm. This included allegations such as weight shaming and excessive training, as well as being forced to train while injured.

The acknowledgement payment scheme, offering $15,000 per person, is open to former WAIS WAG gymnasts who competed or trained to represent WAIS at a National Championship level. Over the course of the program, these athletes were variably described as scholarship holders, elite or competition squad members.

As well as the acknowledgement payments available, funded counselling sessions will be offered to applicants, and former WAIS WAG participants taking part in the Restorative and Reconciliatory Process recommended by Sport Integrity Australia.

In June 2022, the Sport and Recreation Minister issued an apology on behalf of the Western Australian Government to gymnasts who suffered harm while participating in the WAIS Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Program.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) then established a Child Safeguarding Implementation Unit. This unit is working to:

  • ensure Sport Integrity Australia review recommendations are actioned by WAIS;
  • oversee an independent governance and culture review of WAIS, currently underway and led by KPMG Australia; and
  • support the DLGSC’s sector partners to implement child safe practices, including sport and recreation groups, local governments, culture and the arts groups, and multicultural organisations.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries is responsible for assessing applications for the acknowledgement payment scheme, while the Office of the Commissioner for Victims of Crime in the Department of Justice will administer applications and process payments.

The Office of the Commissioner for Victims of Crime is already working with WAIS on a Restorativeand ReconciliatoryProcess, where former gymnasts have the opportunity to describe the impact of the WAG Program on their lives and receive an apology from WAIS.

The application process will be open from 29 May 2024 until 31 August 2024 and payments to successful applicants will be made in September 2024.

Application forms will be available athttps://justice.wa.gov.au/waisaps

As stated by Sport and Recreation Minister David Templeman:

“While we cannot undo the actions of the past and how they impacted former WAIS women’s artistic gymnasts, we hope steps such as our Government’s apology, the Restorative and Reconciliatory Process and the acknowledgement payments can assist with the healing process.

“Eligible former gymnasts who suffered emotional or physical harm can receive $15,000 each.

“In addition, we are funding counselling services for acknowledgement payment scheme applicants and formergymnasts taking part in the Restorative and Reconciliatory Process.

“Our Government is committed to addressing the harms experienced by former WAIS gymnasts and prioritising the safety and wellbeing of Western Australia’s young athletes into the future.

“WAIS high-performance development programs need to nurture and support athletes to achieve the national and international success they strive for.

“We have also commissioned a review of WAIS governance and culture toensure the right environment exists for the best-practice and world-leading quality we expect from WA’s institute of sport.”

/Public Release. View in full here.