The Return to Play Expert Panel was assembled by Sport and Recreation Victoria to help address the complex process for state sporting associations (SSAs) to develop a return to play plan that was both practical and viable, and met the directions of the Chief Health Officer to ensure safety and reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The panel has been chaired by Vicsport CEO Lisa Hasker, and included Anthony Bowd from Vicsport, Tim Owen from Department of Health and Human Services, Ben Hartung from Sport and Recreation Victoria, Louise Atwood from Sport and Recreation Victoria, and advised by health experts Simon Hogan and Daniel Alroe from KPMG.
Having a reviewed plan has been a priority for state sporting associations, as funding through Victorian Government coronavirus (COVID-19) response packages is contingent on having a plan in place.
As of 15 July, the expert panel received a total of 153 Return to Play Plans. Of these, 93 plans have been reviewed by the panel and completed, with three to be finalised and the other 57 referred to state sporting associations as they pertained to local clubs or leagues.
One of the associations was Cricket Victoria and CEO Andrew Ingleton said the panel’s assistance was invaluable.
“The panel provided Cricket Victoria with the confidence that our guidelines provide clear and fulsome advice to our clubs, associations and participants to ensure they are both training and playing cricket in a COVID-safe environment,” said Ingleton.
“Specific issues the panel assisted with included what actions would need to be taken if a participant presents with COVID-19 symptoms, along with helpful suggestions around firm language regarding restrictions such as changerooms, high fives, distancing and drop off/pick up zones.”
Cricket Victoria is one of the largest associations in Victoria with 1,096 cricket clubs and more than 235,000 registered cricket participants. It has been providing weekly updates to its clubs, associations and indoor cricket providers via email, virtual meetings and website updates.
Expert Panel chair Lisa Hasker said advice and guidance had now been provided to all organisations as required, and feedback received shows that the sector has built a strong coronavirus (COVID-19) capability and readiness for return to play when that is possible.
“The panel members were extraordinary,” she said. “Having just a few weeks to review, assist and finalise 93 plans was a massive challenge, as every sport and activity is quite different and has different issues.”
“Fortunately, the expert mix of the panel allowed us to tackle those issue with real precision, so we could put together plans that were practical, viable and safe.”
As the demand for advice and guidance from our Return to Play Expert Panel has reduced, we’ll be winding down the panel over the next week.
The current Stage 3 restrictions mean that state sporting associations will not need further advice over the coming month, however the expert panel may return in the future depending on the needs of the sport and recreation sector.
In the meantime, support will continue to be provided through relationship managers in Sport and Recreation Victoria and the Sport, Recreation and Racing coronavirus (COVID-19) response team. Please continue to send any questions which are not answered on the Department of Health and Human Services or Sport and Recreation Victoria websites to the firstname.lastname@example.org email.