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2016 Selection and Appeals Policy Review | Important Changes and Outcomes

In line with our stated commitment to put athletes first, in 2016 RA undertook a review of our Appeals Policy to identify opportunities to improve the process going forward.

The review, pharmacy which featured input from athletes, coaches, previous appellants, selectors and appeals tribunal members, as well as submissions from members of the rowing public was aimed at improving the efficiency of the process and to ensure that all athletes who strive for selection to Australian Rowing Teams have an overall positive experience.  Key areas of focus were improving communication and timeliness of the process.

The key outcomes of the review, which will most immediately effect the Underage Selection Trials this week (5 April), are:

  • Creation of a Selection Ombudsman position, to be the official observer, advisor and mediator at National Selection Trials. The roles and responsibilities of this position are to hear and review complaints from athletes and coaches during the Trials themselves, and make the process of raising any issues with the selection process (in regards to the Selection Policy only) as quick and as easy as possible. Their role does not include reviewing judgement decisions relating to the quality and ability of athletes or coaches being selected in a crew. We have appointed the Ombudsman to address any issues you may have during the selection process, on the ground at trials, and therefore to make it easier for you, the athlete, to have issues reviewed without having to go through the lengthy appeal process.
  • The introduction of the Selection Ombudsman replaces formal appeals for athletes seeking selection in Junior and Under 21 Teams, while athletes seeking selection in Under 23 and Senior Teams will continue to be able to submit a formal appeal.
  • There are some selection decisions which are not appealable. In order to provide, the athlete, with greater transparency and understanding of this, we have placed these in an updated Appeals Policy and it is a good idea that all athletes and coaches review the Policy (linked at the bottom of this email). To put it simply, the following items are not appealable in the updated Appeals Policy:
    • Any decision relating to Junior and U21 Teams (this is where the Ombudsman steps in, and will resolve any issues with regards to the selection process and make it easier for you to resolve matters on the spot).
    • The determination of selection benchmarks (consistent with the equivalent selection in the Olympic Policy)
    • The decision to not select a boat (if RA has previously notified its intention to not select a specific boat as a policy decision)
  • All the changes in the policy are in order to make the formal appeals process as quick and efficient as possible. In the policy we have included the specific timeframes for the entire process which we hope will manage the volume of documentation and work for all involved.
  • We have organised that athletes will have the ability to attend a debrief with the Selectors to receive feedback on their own selection circumstances and processes. The idea is that the debrief will provide, you, the athlete, direct and clear communication regarding selection decisions and will give you a better understanding of the Selectors’ reasons. If an Under 23 or Senior athlete wants to submit a formal appeal, this debrief will be a mandatory first step in order to ensure that athletes are first aware of the reasons for the original selection decision.

Appointment of RA Selection Ombudsman

As mentioned above, we have created the new role of RA Selection Ombudsman. The RA Board has recently approved the appointment of Mark Williams SC as RA’s Selection Ombudsman. Mr Williams brings a wealth of expertise to the role across all relevant fields, including rowing selection, policy review and procedural fairness. In particular, Mr Williams:

  • Has knowledge of rowing and selection processes, having rowed competitively for many years, and previously having served as a Director of Rowing NSW;
  • Has knowledge of the law and procedural fairness, having previously been a barrister, and a current judge on the NSW District Court;
  • Has experience with sporting selection/appeals processes, having been appointed to the Australian Division of CAS, and chaired a number of AOC selection appeals.

Mr Williams will be available throughout the week at the Underage Trials, and his contact details and process for raising selection matters with him will be provided to athletes and coaches directly at the athlete and coach briefings at the Selection Trials.

The Updated Appeals Policy is available here.