Lawyers seek redress for gymnasts after AHRC report


Lawyers are seeking witnesses to the physical abuse of gymnasts recently exposed by a report from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

Chamberlains Law Firm is working on claims relating to the sexual misconduct against, and serious physical abuse of young gymnasts during training sessions across the country, after the AHRC report found Australian gymnastics to be a “high risk environment for abuse”.

“We urge witnesses to step forth as they could be eligible to rightly deserved compensation for the physical and psychological scars that decades of abuse causes,” a spokesperson for the law firm said.

“We hope that by raising awareness among victims of institutional abuse, we can get more people to step forth and share their stories.”

Institutional abuse is classified as the mistreatment of a person from an authority or system of power. The maltreatment can range from abuse, such as physical and sexual abuse and neglect, to continuous harsh reprimands to modify a behaviour.

Change the Routine, the AHRC’s independent review into gymnastics in Australia, revealed a ‘toxic’ culture of misconduct, bullying, abuse, harassment, and assault.

Gymnastics Australia, the governing body for the sport in Australia, commissioned the report following the release of the documentary Athlete A last year about the abuse of USA Gymnastics athletes.

“The findings are shocking and confronting, and detail a toxic culture of abuse of young athletes who placed trust in their coaches and Gymnastics Australia to look after them,” a Chamberlains spokesperson said.

“The effects of this abuse are long lasting. We find that in similar matters, our clients suffer significant and debilitating psychological effects that devastate their lives. The findings have put a spotlight not only on Gymnastics Australia but also on the human rights of athletes in all sports in Australia. We expect to see a range of allegations emerge.”

A successful plaintiff could claim compensation for pain and suffering because of the abuse, and treatment costs for any physical and psychological injury and any loss of earnings (including wages and superannuation) that resulted from the abuse.

Many victims were not aware they could be entitled to compensation, nor that they could lodge a claim against an institution, a Chamberlains spokesperson said.

Chamberlains’ specialists in institutional abuse, Alison McNamara and Jon May, have more than 40 years of experience in injury and compensation.

They can remotely assist clients anywhere in Australia or in-person at Chamberlains’ offices in Canberra, Sydney, Perth, and Newcastle.

If this story raised concerns, help is available. Call or visit the website of Lifeline (13 11 14). In an emergency, call 000.

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