Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

A safe sports environment for children

4-minute read

Key facts

  • Children need a safe environment to play sport. This includes an environment that is free from abuse, discrimination and harassment.
  • All equipment used should be safe and meet Australian Standards.
  • A child's emotional environment is just as important as their physical environment.
  • Listen to your child. Take their concerns seriously and respond to them.

Creating a safe sports environment for children

It is important to ensure a safe environment for children who play sport. By law, sporting organisations in Australia are responsible for protecting children from abuse, discrimination and harassment.

Make sure the sporting environment is safe by ensuring:

  • equipment is not broken; there are no uneven surfaces or sharp rubbish around
  • your child plays sports that suit their size, age and ability
  • they don't stay too long in the cold or the heat
  • they have clothes and equipment suited to the environment

Creating a fair and supportive sports environment for children

A child's emotional environment is just as important as their physical environment. Protect your child's wellbeing when playing sport by ensuring:

  • they are not forced or coerced into any type of physical activity
  • they are kept away from anyone who criticises, abuses or shouts at them (including coaches, parents, other players or spectators)
  • the team is fair and the competition is positive
  • you praise your child's efforts, even if they don't win

Child protection guidelines in sports

Children have a right to be safe and protected from people who are unsuitable to work with them. All states and territories have child protection laws to keep children safe and protect them from abuse.

Parents and families play an important role in alerting authorities if a sporting environment is not safe for children. You are 'the eyes and ears' of your child's environment. If you are concerned about child safety, speak up and make a complaint. Here are some tips to help you make sure that your child is safe.

  • Everyone, including children, should be treated with respect.
  • Staff and volunteers must not develop any special relationships with children that could be seen as favouritism (such as giving them gifts or special treatment).
  • Adults should not be unnecessarily physical with a child.
  • Adults should not do personal things that the child can do themselves, like changing their clothes.
  • Adults should not talk about adult topics, express personal views about different cultures or races, or use inappropriate language in front of children.
  • No child should be discriminated against because of their culture, race, ethnicity or disability.
  • Adults involved in sporting organisations shouldn't contact the child or the family outside the organisation, including online.

How do I talk to my child about staying safe in a sports environment?

Talk to your child about safety from an early age, and help them understand how their body might feel when something is wrong. The palms of their hands might be sweaty, and they might have shaky legs or a nervous or nauseous feeling in their stomach.

Teach children to speak up if they feel unsafe. Let them know that no one is allowed to touch their private parts, and make sure they understand boundaries and how to say ‘no' if something is not right, and to call you for help if they feel unsafe.

Listen to your child, especially if they tell you they are worried about their safety or the safety of another child. Take their concerns seriously and respond to them.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, remove them from the unsafe environment. Never leave a child alone in an unsafe environment.

How do I report an unsafe sporting environment?

If you are worried that a child is at risk, report it immediately to your state or national sporting or recreation organisation and child protection authority. You can also make a complaint to an officer of the club or organisation. This may be the president, executive officer, volunteer coordinator, or complaint handler.

Resources and support

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Physical activity in children and teenagers -

Encouraging kids and teens to be more active is not always easy. Try to find physical activity that your kids enjoy.

Read more on myDr website

Physical activity: getting kids involved | Raising Children Network

Getting children involved in fun physical activity keeps them healthy and well. It starts with free time to be active and different activities to try.

Read more on website

Physical activity for children: how much | Raising Children Network

How much physical activity do children need for health and wellbeing? Children aged 1-5 years need 3 hours a day. For kids aged 5-18, it’s at least 1 hour.

Read more on website

Screen time & physical activity: kids | Raising Children Network

You can use screen time to get more physical activity into your child’s day. Tips include digital walking maps, sports apps, physical skills videos and more.

Read more on website

Preschoolers nutrition & fitness | Raising Children Network

Want to know about keeping preschoolers active and eating healthy food? Check out our extensive resources on physical activity and healthy eating for kids.

Read more on website

Children’s physical activity: obstacles | Raising Children Network

Obstacles to children’s physical activity include sitting still, space, schedules and screens. Try walking, adjusting schedules and using screens differently.

Read more on website

Physical activity for school children | Raising Children Network

Trying different sports helps school-age children work out what they’re good at. Doing physical activity they enjoy and are good at keeps them interested.

Read more on website

Physical activity | SCHN Site

Children of all ages can benefit from being physically active. Physical activity is essential for good physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Physical activity: pre-teens and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Physical activity keeps pre-teen and teenage bodies and minds healthy. At this age, your child needs at least one hour of activity each day. Find out more.

Read more on website

Kids and physical play

Play is important for your child’s development and learning. Here's how you can support your child’s play and help them identify and manage risks.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.