As the Chair of the Commission I am proud of the work we achieved in 2018/19. Combat sports in WA has become increasingly popular, with a noticeable increase in the number of registrations across contestants and Industry Participants, and the Commission has worked hard to support a large number of promotions whilst working behind the scene on several key projects for the betterment of the Combat Sports Community.
This year saw a number of changes to the composition of the Commission. Mr Wayne Rowland departed after seven years with the Commission and Mr Anthony Van der Wielen ended his two-year term with the Commission. Also departing was the WA Police Commissioner representative, Inspector Mark Longman. I thank Wayne, Anthony and Mark for all their hard work and effort during their time with the Commission.
Senior Sergeant Marcus Murray was appointed in February 2019 as the WA Police Commissioner representative. Ms Pearl Lim was appointed in January 2018 as the Commission Member with knowledge of the boxing industry. Mr Glen Austin was appointed in January 2018 as someone who has experience and knowledge as a contestant in a class relevant to boxing. Marcus, Pearl and Glen all bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in their respective fields and I look forward to continuing working together in the next financial year and beyond.
I wish to also acknowledge the outgoing Executive Officer, Seema Saxena, who departed in December 2018. I am appreciative of Seema’s hard work and efforts during her time with the Commission and wish Seema all the best with her future endeavours. The vacant Executive Officer position was filled by Antoni Grover from January 2019. Antoni hit the ground running having previously worked for the Commission in 2016 and quickly demonstrated his ability to perform and effectively lead the team of staff who assist the Commission. Since October 2018, the Commission has also been assisted by Erin Guthrie and in February 2019 Melissa Baker joined the team. Erin and Melissa both bring strong administrative and regulatory skills to the team. The Commission said goodbye to Lisa Pearson and Stacey Newtown who were well known to the industry. The staff all do an amazing job in ensuring the Commission complies with the requirements set out in the Act. Their work, passion, and dedication is appreciated.
As part of the Machinery of Government changes that occurred in 2017, the former Department of Sport and Recreation now sits within the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) at the new office location of 140 William St, Perth. The Commission now sits within the Regulation Division of DLGSC under the leadership of Deputy Director General, Mick Connolly. The 2018/19 financial year has seen the strengthening of the relationship between the Commission and new department and I thank Mick for his ongoing support to the Commission.
In addition, the Commission is thankful for the support provided by the DLGSC for support in staffing, financial services, communications, legal and human resources. The restructure of the department and move to the new office was a challenge for the Commission and I thank all those involved and for making the Commission staff feel welcome in their new office.
In 2018/19, the Commission continued its important work with the development of a strategy to address rapid weight loss by dehydration (weight cutting) by contestants. The only way we can stop this dangerous practice is to create a culture where safety is paramount and everyone’s responsibility. To that end, the Commission has continued to engage, collaborate and consult with various stakeholders to develop a strategy to what is a complex issue. The Commission acknowledges it has an opportunity to set an example to other jurisdictions in Australia and around the world in addressing this deep-seated and dangerous practice and thanks all the jurisdictions who have been willing to consult with the Commission and share ideas, challenges and best practices. The Commission has already implemented part of the strategy with the release of some of the educational materials on the dangers of weight cutting and aims to finalise the roll out of the strategy in the 2019/20 financial year. I thank all members of the Commission and staff for their contribution, in particular I am extremely grateful to James Harmer, who has been leading this project. I am also extremely grateful to Sharron Lindsay, Dr Patrick Golden and Dr Roslyn Carbon who have continued to consult with the Commission and assist in the development of the strategy.
The Commission engaged Mark Humphrey’s from RiskWest as a consultant to complete a review of the Commission’s Risk Management framework and relevant risk related policies and procedures. The Commission places a high importance on risk management given its regulatory role in an industry that comes with acknowledged inherent health and safety risks. The health and safety of contestants is the utmost priority of the Commission and I thank Mark, and his team, for his assistance with this key project.
In an effort to improve stakeholder engagement and keep the industry informed, the Commission launched an official Facebook page in 2018/19. The Commission has used Facebook to share important information, messages and policies. Like our page to connect with the Commission and the Combat Sports Community.
Together with its consultant, Two Moons, the Commission also rebranded its fact sheets, guidelines and policies. The Commission’s tag line “prepare well, perform better” is found on its newly branded documents. This tag line talks to the Commission’s view on the dangerous practice of weight cutting.
In parallel to the abovementioned projects, the Commission has been developing a new online registration and promotion application portal, developing a new website and increasing its online presence. The new online portal will provide a new streamlined process for registration and promotion permit applications and is expected to be launched in the 2019/20 financial year. The Commission has also been working towards a new website, which will sit within the DLGSC website, which will also be launched in 2019/20.
The Commission has continued to review its policies to ensure they are relevant and align with industry priorities. During this financial year, the Commission developed the Dual Roles Policy and updated the Children Participating at Promotions Policy. In addition, weight classifications for boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai were amended in the Combat Sport Regulations to ensure the prescribed weight classifications were aligned to those prescribed by international bodies. The Commission also did some work to require that Seconds are also registered (this came into effect on 1 July 2019).
In November 2018, the Commission issued a stakeholder survey and thanks everyone who took the time to participate in the survey to enable the Commission to evaluate its performance and gain feedback from the industry. In doing so, the Commission learnt of the importance of engaging and consulting the industry when developing and amending policies. Unfortunately, the Commission has observed that during all consultation processes, the response from the industry has been limited. I encourage all members of the industry to engage with the Commission to ensure that your voice is heard. You feedback is important to us in ensuring the health and safety of the community.
I acknowledge the contribution of all members, current, incoming and outgoing, of the Commission. The work of all Commission members is not lost on me and I appreciate everyone’s passion and commitment.
I wish to publicly acknowledge the continued efforts of Antoni Grover, Tracey Roper, Erin Guthrie, Melissa Baker and James Harmer throughout the year. It is their commitment and professionalism that ensures the smooth running of the Commission.
In addition, thank you to all external stakeholders, consultants, support functions within the DLGSC and the combat sports industry for your ongoing support and contribution.
Finally, on behalf of the Commission, I would like to again thank the Hon. Mick Murray, and his wonderful staff, for their support, approachability and willingness to assist. I personally commend all Commission members and staff for their efforts in enforcing the Act throughout the course of the year.
I am encouraged by the progress the Commission made in 2018/19 in respect of the various projects and look forward to another exciting year ahead.
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