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New research reveals how sports clubs manage integrity issues - AUT

New research reveals how sports clubs manage integrity issues - AUT

A national survey of sports clubs has produced valuable insights into how threats to integrity are perceived and dealt with in New Zealand’s sporting communities.

With funding from the Sport and Recreation Integrity Transition Programme (ITP) - the organisation tasked with establishing the forthcoming Integrity Sport and Recreation Commission - the 2023 National Sport Club Survey (NSCS) included questions about integrity for the first time.

The NSCS generates an annual snapshot of the management, operation, and governance of New Zealand’s sport clubs.

It is run through a partnership between AUT’s Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ) and the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association (NZASA).

In 2023, 800 clubs (out of 7,500) responded to the NSCS across 80 sports and all 16 regions of New Zealand. Chairs, presidents, secretaries, and other leaders completed the survey on behalf of their clubs.

In 2023, the ITP commissioned a series of NSCS questions to explore club committees’ perceptions of threats to integrity in community sport and gain an understanding of the level of preparedness to manage integrity issues and complaints at club level.

The survey generated responses from over 800 clubs nation-wide.

"AUT’s work has provided hugely valuable insights into how integrity issues are viewed by our sporting clubs and their communities," ITP Director Rebecca Rolls said.

"These insights have helped shape our thinking as we continue the work of establishing the new Commission, which will be operational from July 1 this year."

"Obviously we wouldn’t have this information without hundreds of club officials having taken the time to complete the survey - so a massive thanks to them for making that effort. It’s very much appreciated."

Key findings from the survey include:

Over half (56 per cent) of clubs surveyed felt their committee was well prepared to deal with integrity issues.

However over 80 per cent of clubs report that they either never or rarely discuss identified integrity issues at committee level. This suggests an over-confidence among clubs about their capabilities when it comes to integrity issues and an overreliance on ‘open door’ approaches to the self-reporting of integrity concerns.

22 per cent of clubs have used information from or support from their national body (NSO) to help address an integrity issue.

34 per cent of clubs are aware of the Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service - a function that will transfer to the new Commission.

As part of the NSCS Project Team, AUT researchers have welcomed the opportunity to work with the ITP to better understand sport integrity at club committee/board level.

"We, and the NZASA, are very aware of the demands on community sport clubs, including their mainly volunteer committees. We expected the survey would reveal gaps in club approaches to sport integrity, but also some great ideas to help community sport fill those sport integrity gaps" says the NSCS’s sport integrity project lead, Dr Tracy Molloy, an AUT senior lecturer in sport leadership and management.

Some of the reported current club sport integrity initiatives include:

Positions - including athlete representatives, peer supporters, welfare officers, coach integrity officers and child protection officers. Practices - including anonymous reporting mechanisms (online or suggestion boxes), regular integrity messaging (committee/team meetings, newsletters, posters, flyers) and regular/intentional check-ins with coaches/participants (to promote visibility and approachability).

Training - however, with a narrow focus on child safeguarding as opposed to broader integrity education (an area for future development).

One club surveyed "all members on an anonymous basis on all matters related to the club culture with particular emphasis on ‘being heard’, transparency, discrimination, and social responsibility …". Another club "has introduced aspects of tikanga… We are working on good communication, living/modelling our recently articulated values."

AUT SPRINZ sport integrity researcher, Dr Molloy, is "encouraged that these initiatives provide great lessons to share as well as a platform on which to develop a more positive culture-building (in addition to the punishment) approach to the sport integrity environment".

The NSCS report ‘Integrity in Community Sport’ concludes with future considerations for community sport clubs and the new Integrity Sport & Recreation Commission. 

Click this link to read the report.

New research reveals how sports clubs manage integrity issues - AUT - Fuseworks (

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