Gymnastics Australia insists it is still in the process of signing up to the National Redress Scheme for athletes affected by sexual abuse ©Getty Images

Gymnastics Australia, which has come under pressure from a new athlete pressure group to sign up to the National Redress Scheme offering recompense to victims of sexual abuse, is insisting it has not refused to do so, but is awaiting an assessment process.

After Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2017 uncovered serious instances of cover-ups of sexual abuse in Australian sport, the Government devised a National Redress Scheme offering payments to victims.

But Gymnastics Australia has not yet joined the thousands of institutions to have signed up to the scheme.

Now a petition calling upon it to do so has been organised by recently-formed pressure group Athlete Rights Australia (ARA).

"Many organisations with far fewer children in their sport have signed on," Alison Quigley, a former gymnast who is a director and co-founder of ARA, told insidethegames.

Quigley, who is also an applicant for redress and is now a doctoral candidate in law, studying child safe policies in Australian gymnastics, added: "It baffles me why Gymnastics Australia, although making a generalised apology for the abuse that occurred on its watch in the last five decades, did not follow through with tangible measures like redress.

"We need answers.

"It's effectively had four years to sign on.

"It has claimed to lead the way on child safety.

"And yet it cannot fulfil a basic mandate like this.

"It’s an insult to the survivor community."

The Gymnastics Australia annual report published in December 2020 said the organisation had
The Gymnastics Australia annual report published in December 2020 said the organisation had "fulling commenced" signing up to the National Redress Scheme

A Gymnastics Australia spokesperson told insidethegames that plans are afoot to join the scheme, however.  

"Gymnastics Australia has submitted our Letter of Intent to join the National Redress Scheme," the spokesperson said.

"Whilst we await the outcome, we are working with the Scheme to complete the onboarding and assessment process."

In its annual report published in December 2020, Gymnastics Australia said: "Gymnastics Australia has continued to engage with the National Redress Scheme throughout the year and has formally commenced the on-boarding process."

Responding to the Gymnastics Australia statement, Quigley told insidethegames: "Gymnastics Australia have contacted me.

"As I said, they are keen to demonstrate they are willing to sign on and they are listed as willing to sign on.

"The issue is delay.

"If you say you’re formally onboarding with a process and redress still hasn’t been forthcoming for that long, and you're saying you're leading the way in child safety, that's problematic."