The Australian Athletes’ Alliance (the Triple A or AAA), which represents more than 3,500 of Australia’s elite professional athletes, today released the Charter of Athletes’ Rights and unveiled its first tranche of policies, covering the important topics of Good Governance, Integrity, Athlete Development and Wellbeing and Health and Safety.

The AAA is the peak body for Australia’s eight professional player unions in the sports of AFL, basketball, cricket, football, horse racing (jockeys), netball, rugby league and rugby union.

Speaking at the AAA Charter of Athletes’ Rights and Policy Platform launch in Sydney, the General Secretary of the AAA, Brendan Schwab, said the development of the Charter of Athletes’ Rights and the four foundation policies signals a new era in the representation of professional athletes in Australia.

“Professional athletes are people first, and athletes second. Despite the enormous demands and privileges of their profession, they are entitled to the same rights as all hard working Australians.

“The AAA is ready to engage with Australia’s major sports, Government and industry to ensure that the Charter of Athletes’ Rights is complied with and the AAA’s Policy Platform implemented. This is essential if Australian sport is to emerge from its ‘blackest day’ of February 2013 with its reputation enhanced and integrity and good governance protected.

“The events of the last 12 – 18 months show that Australian sport has failed its athletes and fans through:

  • Poor governance
  • The absence of the voice of athletes in efforts to preserve the integrity of sport
  • A lack of respect for the rights of athletes
  • Athletes confronting unsafe working conditions
  • Inadequate investment in athlete education, development and wellbeing programs.

“The AAA’s Charter of Athletes’ Rights and four foundation policies squarely address this.

“The challenges for Australian sport will be to address its own shortcomings, appreciate that corruption and cheating does not begin with athletes and to stop treating athletes as the problem, instead of the solution,” Schwab said.

He said the Charter of Athletes’ Rights sets out 15 fundamental rights and responsibilities which every professional athlete should enjoy and uphold in carrying out his or her profession. The Charter will become a vital measure by which the AAA will assess all laws, policies and regulations that affect professional athletes.

The AAA Policy Platform calls for:

  • Enhanced standards in the governance of Australian sport, including the increased accountability of sporting boards, the separation of powers and the mandated involvement of athletes in the decision-making process, preferably through collective bargaining
  • The establishment of a dedicated athletes’ integrity unit under the auspices of the AAA, so that athletes are resourced and empowered to be the first line of defence against threats to the integrity of sport, and that sports integrity units are accountable and effective
  • Minimum levels of investment in athlete education, development and wellbeing programs, to enable athletes to pursue a second career and effectively prepare for life after their short term and precarious sporting careers have ended
  • A revolution in the approach Government and sport has traditionally taken to athlete health and safety. Minimum medical standards must apply, athletes must be compensated when injured and legislation that discriminates against athletes (such as that which excludes athletes from the protection of workers’ compensation legislation) revoked. Further, the mental health and social wellbeing of athletes are essential health and safety considerations together with physical health.

The AAA was represented at today’s announcement by some of Australia’s most influential professional athletes, on and off the field, as well as leading players’ association officials David Garnsey (AAA Chairman)(CEO Rugby League Players’ Association), Greg Harris (CEO Rugby Union Players’ Association) Paul Marsh (CEO Australian Cricketers’ Association), Ian Prendergast (Acting CEO AFL Players) and Adam Vivian (CEO Professional Footballers Australia):

  • Shane Watson and Lisa Sthaleker (Australian international cricketers)
  • Ted Richards and Jarrad McVeigh (AFL players)
  • Clint Newton (professional rugby league player)
  • James Horwill (Australian international rugby players)
  • Matt McKay, Eddie Bosnar and Simon Colosimo (international professional footballers)
  • Ben Madgen (international professional basketball player).

The AAA has produced two videos featuring 16 of Australia’s elite athletes who support the Charter of Athletes’ Rights and the policies and goals of the AAA. Athletes featured in the videos include:

  • Drew Petrie, Luke Ball and Adam Goodes (AFL players)
  • Bianca Chatfield (netball)
  • Joe Ingles and Jacob Holmes (basketball)
  • Billy Slater and Greg Inglis (rugby league)
  • Benn Robinson and Bernard Foley (rugby union)
  • Ricky Ponting and Meg Lanning (cricket)
  • Mark Schwarzer, Archie Thompson, Kate Gill and David Williams (football).