Key Hockeyroos staffer resigns amid review into culture

Amid an investigation into complaints of bad culture and governance in Australia’s elite women’s hockey programme, one of the main backroom staff of the Hockeyroos has stepped down from her position, claiming she has lost the confidence of the board of Hockey Australia.

Hockey Australia’s high performance director Toni Cumpston has left the job weeks after players were notified that she would be taking extended leave from late December.

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Cumpston has spent 25 years working in high performance sport in Australia and New Zealand, including roles at the Australian Institute of Sport, Victorian Institute of Sport and as a Hockeyroos assistant coach at the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

In a statement, she said she would step down on April 15 this year and that she had engaged employment lawyer Josh Bornstein of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to “assist in finalising my departure”.

Hockey Australia Performance Director Toni Cumpston

Sources with knowledge of the situation indicated HA was already well into the process of seeking her replacement before she announced her decision.

“This is not a decision I have made lightly,” Cumpston said. “However, in a very short space of time it has become evident that I no longer have the support of the Board of Hockey Australia to continue this work.

“I was left with no option but to engage Mr Josh Bornstein of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to assist in finalising my departure from the organisation.”

The Hockeyroos have been embroiled in controversy since allegations of a poor culture arose late last year.

All three captains stepped down from their roles and key players were dropped, with The Age and Sydney Morning Herald revealing players and staff had concerns about the environment for years.

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World Goalkeeper of the Year Rachael Lynch (Austr.) was dropped from the programme in November. Copyright Frank Uljenbroek – World Sport Pics

Hockey Australia announced a review into the team’s culture and its own governance soon after.

Earlier this week that review was taken over by Bruce Collins QC amid concerns the original review leaders had conflicts of interest due to links with those in charge at HA.

Sports Integrity Australia has set up a complaints channel for players and staff and former players and staff to lodge their concerns with.

The Hockeyroos are ranked No.4 in the world. They have won three Olympic gold medals (1988, 1996 and 2000) and finished sixth at Rio 2016.

Georgina Morgan and International Hockey Federation goalkeeper of the year Rachael Lynch were dropped from the squad in November and have lodged formal appeals against that decision.

Anthony Colangelo

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