As a club administrator you will handle many complaints from players, parents, coaches, community members, umpires, sponsors and more! It can be very discouraging and confusing to navigate at times.
National Member Protection Policy
The AFL has a National Member Protection Policy which sets out the standards of behaviour that the AFL requires of all individuals associated with the sport. The policy covers any complaints regarding inappropriate behaviour including violence, unlawful discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of any form.
The policy provides information about member responsibilities, relevant national policies, breaches, and complaints and investigation procedures.
It is highly recommended that all club members are aware of and understand the National Member Protection Policy.
State and Territory Disciplinary Committee Guidelines
The State and Territory Disciplinary Committee Guidelines cover any Disciplinary Matter or conduct in respect of which the Disciplinary Committee is empowered to deal.
Disciplinary Matter are any matter that contravenes the Member Protection Policy, the Guidelines, or the Rules and Regulations of the AFL, a Controlling Body or Affiliated State and Territory Body, other than Reportable Offences.
AFL Reporting Portal
The AFL Reporting Portal allows you to make a report to the AFL relating to an allegation of behaviour that may contravene the AFL’s:
- Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy
- Respect and Responsibility Policy
- Whistleblower Policy (Improper Conduct)
Here, you have the option to:
- Make an online report (anonymously if preferred).
- Be directed to further information on Safeguarding Children and Young People and/or Respect and Responsibility.
- Find contact details to speak to the AFL directly via telephone, or other service providers.
Tips for complaint handling
Some complaints will be less serious and should be resolved informally within the club. While the complaint may be minor, the person complaining can often be emotional and somewhat difficult.
It’s important to handle the complaint effectively to stop it from escalating further.
Don’t take it personally
It can be easier said than done when you invest so much into the club and its outcomes, but the complainer is just as invested! You will need to stay calm and neutral.
It’s important that you listen and acknowledge what they are saying and show the person respect. They might just need to get something off their chest.
Get an understanding.
Once the person has aired their complaint, asks questions about anything you didn’t understand or to get more details. The facts are important to ensure you can come up with a suitable solution. It will also make the person feel like you are taking their complaint seriously.
Be careful not to ask in a passive-aggressive manner – be genuine in your conversation!
Respond, don’t react!
Naturally, you may want to tell the person to go away or tell them just how wrong they are however this won’t help anyone.
Instead offer support and suggestions on ways to overcome the problem. An example could be suggesting the club tables the idea of a junior selection policy after a parent complains about the lack of playing time their child is getting.
If you cannot think of any ways to overcome the problem on the spot, let the person know you will take it to the club committee to think of a solution.
Once the complaint has been heard, make sure you deliver on any actions. If you are unable to deliver on the original solution, be sure to let the person know why and offer a more appropriate solution. Problems will escalate if the person doesn’t feel they were taken seriously, or nothing was done.
Unfortunately, complaints are inevitable but there are resources to help you if you are still unsure.
The Play by the Rules website is a great resource for all levels of complaint handling, and preventing and dealing with discrimination, harassment, child safety, inclusion and integrity issues in sport.