As part of an expanded partnership by Football Australia, Sport Integrity Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), anyone who has been involved in Football Australia’s national programs will have the opportunity to access free counselling via the AIS Mental Health Referral Network from November 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022.
The move, which offers free access to expert mental health and wellbeing support, includes:
- Current and former members of the men’s and women’s national teams
- Current and former members of the A-League Men
- Current and former members of the A-League Women
- Current and former members of the A-League Youth
- All impacted Football Australia staff
- Impacted family members of the athlete or staff groups above
Importantly, the support extends to all parties involved in the complaint process, including those who submit complaints or reports, and the respondents to those complaints.
Sport Integrity Australia CEO David Sharpe sees the value of the partnership as something that cannot be underestimated.
“We understand that speaking up, or being the subject of an investigation, can sometimes be extremely challenging. Ensuring people have access to professional support if they need it is essential and this partnership provides that through dedicated professionals who are experts in the field of elite sport,” he said.
AIS Director of People Development and Wellbeing Matti Clements was pleased to be able to expand support during the Football Australia process.
“We genuinely want everyone in Australian high-performance sport to be supported and feel like they can reach out for help if, and when, they need it. This year alone the AIS Mental Health Referral Network has received more than 350 referrals. So, don’t ever feel like you’re alone or there isn’t someone you can speak to,” she said.
“Your first point of call when you connect with the Mental Health Referral Network will be with a qualified psychologist who will discuss your concerns and circumstances, then offer to connect you to the most suitable clinician in our network. There’s no obligations, just support.”
Football Australia James Johnson CEO saw the expansion of the partnership as underlining the game’s commitment to providing a safe and supportive environment for players and officials.
“The issues we’re talking about are inherently complex and deeply personal, so it’s important that people are provided the appropriate care and support so they are, and feel, equipped to participate in the process in a way that caters for their specific needs and circumstances,” he said.