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MEMBER PROTECTION – Jan/Feb – The Role of MPIO

This month’s post returns to more conventional MPIO matters… The role of MPIO (Member Protection Information Officer).

The key is in the name… Member Protection INFORMATION Officer. Yes, I know, a bit underwhelming. Not an advocate, not an investigator , not a mediator, not an arbitrator.

The MPIO’s role is to provide information and options to those with a member protection concern.

As I mentioned in my August post, the core skills needed by an MPIO are:
• Listening
• Remaining impartial - not taking sides

The best way to resolve an issue is at the lowest possible level. The lowest possible level of course depends on the severity of the concern. At the most severe end, it would be appropriate to go straight to the Police or the child protection agency, rather than approach the Club.

However the issues more likely to be raised may involve:
• favouritism in team selection
• mild coarse language or yelling
• biased application of the rules by the umpire
• excessive emphasis on winning
• restriction of access to facilities

In such circumstances, the MPIO is likely to do one or more of the following after being approached with a concern:
• meet with the person whose behaviour is the subject of the concern
• suggest the parties talk directly to each other
• provide more information to the person with the concern, regarding Club policy and procedures relevant to their concern (team selection policy, codes of behaviour, interpretation of the rules)
• informal discussion with all those involved.

If the issue is not resolved or resolvable via such means, it may be appropriate to embark on a formal complaints process. This might initially be at:
• Club level (mediation, Complaints Committee hearing),
• State level (State Association, alternative dispute resolution organisation, Equal Opportunity commission, Dept of Sport and Rec, Child Protection agency, the Police) or
• National level (alternative dispute resolution organisation, Equal Opportunity commission, Child Protection agency, a lawyer, the Aust Sports Commission).

In almost all cases a formal process involves agencies outside the Club.

There are established guidelines which indicate the appropriate course of action in various circumstances.

The onus is always on proceeding according to the wishes of the person voicing the concern.
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