Focus On: Governance
In this edition of our ‘focus on’ series we look at why strengthening and supporting good governance in sport is an important element of Team Up’s work.
Strengthening and supporting good governance in sport is one of the key focus areas of Team Up and underpins much of the work of our 30 programs across the Pacific region.
Good governance is fundamental to the success of any organisation and is a foundation of strong programming. This applies particularly to organisations delivering sport for development programs and is central to one of Team Up’s three end-of-program outcomes: sport organisations are safe, inclusive and accessible.
“Governance has always been important in sport, but there is a particularly strong focus on it nowadays,” explains Team Up Partnerships Manager, Andrew Lepani. “Sports organisations are increasingly aware that good practices, transparency, accountability and inclusion are essential attributes that contribute to stronger outcomes, and sporting bodies that showcase these qualities will attract greater respect.
“While inclusion policies and governance reform have been the focus of much work globally, some Pacific organisations are at an earlier stage of this journey and being part of Team Up is an opportunity for them to assess and improve aspects of their governance.”
Team Up is committed to supporting partners to strengthen their governance practices, and our programs operate in strict adherence to rules and requirements in the areas of integrity and due diligence. With more than 60 partner organisations across the Pacific, Team Up supports each one to ensure their key policies relating to governance are both up-to-date and working effectively. This includes policies that promote diversity and inclusion, minimise the risk of child protection and safeguarding incidents and prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.
Team Up also works with regional and international bodies that run initiatives tied to increasing governance capability, streamlining access for Pacific partners to global programs of work. For example, Team Up (on behalf of the Australian Government) sits on the International Safeguards for Children in Sport Advisory Board and Working Group, which have developed a set of international standards for safeguarding children in sport, translated into multiple languages. These represent collective good practice and provide a foundational framework to help organisations make sport safer for all children.
Much of the working group’s public engagement focuses on Safe Sport Day, celebrated each year on 8 August, when sports organisations are encouraged to take a pledge committing to safeguarding in line with international standards and best practice. In 2021, nearly 25 per cent of pledges made globally came from Pacific-based organisations.
To support Pacific national sports federations and Olympic committees on their pathway to strengthening governance, Team Up’s predecessor program, Pacific Sports Partnerships, supported Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) to develop an e-learning course, Building Better Management – the first online course of its kind for ONOC. It covers topics such as safeguarding and leading and managing organisations, people and finances, and has been undertaken by several current Team Up partners. The course is part of ONOC’s Oceania Sports Education Program (OSEP) and is undertaken by identified cohorts of learners.
A number of programs under Team Up focus specifically on governance reform to create more inclusive sports organisations. One of these is Basketball for Good, the goal of which is to improve the governance of national basketball federations in Fiji and Papua New Guinea to empower them to deliver safe, inclusive, high-quality basketball programs.
Through Basketball for Good, the Basketball Federation of Papua New Guinea (BFPNG) has been supported to create a strategic plan, accompanied by appropriate policies and procedures (and, where relevant, to adopt FIBA policies to ensure global alignment). Basketball for Good is also working to improve communication between program staff and board members of BFPNG and Fiji Basketball, creating an important flow of information that does not always exist between the boards of national sports federations and the staff of their programs.
“Good governance ensures quality program delivery,” explains FIBA Basketball for Good Manager, Peter Topp. “FIBA, Basketball Fiji and Basketball Federation of Papua New Guinea are seeking to ensure all of our programs are safe, inclusive and rewarding. The best way is to continuously work with our partners to ensure good governance is at the forefront of all aspects of the organisation.”
Compared to previous phases of Australia’s sport for development program where activities were delivered solely by sports partners, Team Up has broadened the partnership structure to introduce non-sports organisations who bring governance and safeguarding expertise from the international development sector.
One example is ChildFund, the lead partner in the Cricket for Good Fiji program, and an implementing partner in Get Into Rugby PLUS in Fiji and Samoa. As one of the leading organisations in strengthening safeguarding approaches in development programs globally, ChildFund’s work in the sport for development sector brings additional knowledge in this area.
As a pioneer organisation on the International Safeguards for Children in Sport, ChildFund is taking a lead supporting sports governing bodies to improve their safeguarding practices. In recognition of this work, ChildFund received the 2017 Beyond Sport UNICEF International Safeguarding Award.
In 2020, ChildFund began a two-year partnership working to support Oceania Rugby and five member unions to develop their safeguarding practices. In the context of the global pandemic restricting travel and limiting planned project activities, ChildFund pivoted their normal face-to-face safeguarding training and support to trial online delivery, recognising that many sports organisations globally would not be delivering their activities as normal.
A Safeguarding in Sport: Online Learning Pilot Project was then developed and delivered between August 2020 and January 2021. The registration process was open to any organisation to apply and, ultimately, 30 organisations were successful in their application to participate in the pilot. The goal of the pilot project was to ‘facilitate learners’ understanding of key concepts of safeguarding in sport and the international environment in which safeguarding in sport sits’. Staff from Team Up programs including Just Play and Inclusive GymBad took part in the pilot project. An external evaluation of the pilot found 100 per cent of the participants felt that the course had improved their knowledge of safeguarding, and 96 per cent of participants overall identified a positive impact on their organisation in relation to safeguarding.
“It’s great to see so many sports organisations being proactive in learning about safeguarding in sport and working to develop systems to keep everyone safe,” says ChildFund S4D (sport for development) Director, Chris Mastaglio. “We enjoyed working with organisations at all levels. It is a fundamental right for all children to be safe and all of us working in sport have an important responsibility to ensure that our work is inclusive and safe for everyone.”
Team Up programs aim to address governance through multiple approaches. Examples include:
Improving the governance of national federations:
Basketball for Good in Fiji and PNG
Creating more inclusive pathways into sports governance:
Smash Down Barriers in Fiji and Tonga
Nauru Rugby Inclusion Impact Program
PNG Rugby Union Inclusion Impact Program
Strengthening safeguarding standards and practices:
Cricket for Good in Fiji
Get into Rugby PLUS in Fiji and Samoa
Supporting program inclusion through governance strategies:
Volley4Change in Vanuatu