Member protection describes the practices and procedures that are put in place within sport organisations to protect their members. The FA Member Protection framework and related policies aim to ensure that core values and positive behaviours are maintained.
The Member Protection Framework assists in ensuring that every person involved in football in Australia is treated with respect and dignity, and is kept safe and protected from abuse, bullying and harassment and discrimination.
MPIOs are the point of contact at Clubs, Associations and Referee Branches for participants, volunteers or parents with member protection enquiries or complaints. In many clubs, it is also the MPIO who manages the club’s Working with Children Check responsbilities.
Football NSW requires all Clubs, Associations and Referee Branches to have an MPIO. All MPIOs must be registered with their club in Play Football or the relevant online registration platform for insurance purposes.
As the main point of contact for enquiries and complaints relating to member protection, the MPIO should be approachable and have good listening and communication skills. The MPIO should also have a sound knowledge of the club and the club committee structure as well as club policies, processes and child safe practices, including the Working with Children Check (WWCC).
In some clubs, managing the club’s WWCC responsibilities also forms part of the role, as compliance with the WWCC is one of the first steps at a club in keeping children safe.
Some clubs have more than one MPIO as this provides a greater level of support to their members and is particularly beneficial if the MPIO responsibilities include the WWCC, as this allows the responsibilities to be shared. The role of MPIO is usually a voluntary position.
MPIO’s are impartial and do not mediate or investigate complaints. Complaints should be managed by a suitable person appointed by the Club to manage complaints, this can be a nominated Committee Member or independent person. Where there is a conflict of interest, the Club President or Committee can appoint an independent person to manage the complaint.
All participants need to be able to contact the MPIO at their club. The name and a contact phone number for the MPIO should be made available without question to any person requesting it. The MPIO’s name and contact details should also be listed on the club website and included in club Newsletters and player and parent notices. If the MPIO does not wish for their phone number to be listed, then