Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service

OPTION A

Make a preliminary enquiry. Receive guidance and learn more about the complaints handling process.

PRELIMINARY ENQUIRY

OPTION B

Register a completely anonymous complaint using Whispli technology. This is a formal process.

FORMAL COMPLAINT

FAQs

What is the Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service?

The Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service (SRCMS) is an independent complaints and mediation service for sport and recreation across Aotearoa New Zealand.
This service is operated by Immediation New Zealand Limited, an online dispute resolution company which has been contracted by Sport NZ. It is independent of Sport NZ, High Performance Sport New Zealand and all other sporting bodies, clubs and organisations.

What does the service do?

The Service can assist individuals with a complaint or dispute in connection with sport or recreation in Aotearoa New Zealand. Immediation will provide information about the services and avenues available for resolving the issue. Matters may be progressed to early facilitation or to a mediation by an expert mediator. In some cases, an independent investigation may be possible with the agreement of the sporting organisation. There is no obligation to proceed.

Who can submit a complaint or dispute?

You must be over 18 years of age to raise a complaint or dispute with this Service.

If you are a parent or legal guardian, you may raise an issue relating to a child; please see our Quick Guide and Service Guidelines for further details.

What services are available?

The Service has the option to provide:

- Early facilitation: this is a flexible and informal process where we work with all parties involved to seek to resolve a dispute;
- Mediation: this is a facilitated resolution process with an independent expert mediator.  The mediator assists the parties to seek to resolve their dispute on terms that they agree;
- Investigation: we will assess whether an investigative mechanism is available to you under the Service.  If it is, the sporting organisation may appoint an independent investigator from our panel (see our Investigation Protocols).
- A combination of any of the above.

Free and confidential counselling services provided by EAP Services are also available to anyone using this Service.

It is always up to you whether or not to participate in one of our facilitated dispute resolution processes. We will provide support and guidance throughout the process.

You may wish to speak with a friend or family member about the Service and you can also seek legal advice from a lawyer about whether the Service is right for you.

What kind of disputes and complaints will be handled?

To access the Service, you just need to have a complaint or dispute in connection with sport or recreation. All sorts of different complaints and disputes arise in connection with sport and recreation. Here are some examples:

- a complaint about on or off field behaviour of a coach, volunteer, parent or sportsperson;
- a dispute about selection for a particular team or event;
- a complaint about club management, culture, or a policy;
- a complaint of wrongdoing by a volunteer, coach, individual team member or their parent;
- complaints of bullying, harassment, or discrimination;
- a dispute about inappropriate use of social media in a sporting setting.

Can we approach resolution of my dispute in accordance with Te Ao Maori?

The Service will operate in accordance with the Principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi, including capability for participants to engage in the Service in accordance with Te Ao Maori where appropriate.

Please see our Service Guidelines for further details of how working collaboratively with Tutira Mai we adapt our dispute resolution approaches in accordance with parties’ wishes.

How do I submit a complaint?

There are two methods available:

Method A) To submit a complaint or dispute over the phone, simply call 0800 493 612. Your telephone call will not be recorded. Your call will be answered by a member of the SRCMS team who will take details of your complaint. They will then talk with you about available dispute resolution.

Method B) To submit your complaint online, follow the 3 simple steps below.

Step 1: Go to: https://sportsmediationservice.whispli.com/inbox/register and create a Whispli inbox.
Please note that if you wish to submit a complaint through our online portal you will need to create a Whispli account even if you do not wish to remain anonymous.

Step 2: Click on 'Create a Report', provide details of your complaint or dispute by filling in the online questionnaire, and submit once ready.

Step 3: Once submitted, a member of our team will receive the details of your dispute or complaint and will get in touch with you to let you know whether the matter is within the scope of the Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation service and to explore available options with you.

What can I expect when I call?

We will listen carefully and take a note of your contact details (except if you wish to remain anonymous).

We will ask you some details about your complaint or dispute including: 
- the nature of your complaint or dispute;
- the names of individuals and where relevant, organisations that are the subject of the complaint and/or party to the dispute;
- whether the issue has previously been raised with any person, club or organisation.

We do not take sides in a dispute. We are completely impartial.

We will:
- inform you whether or not your complaint/dispute can be dealt with through this service;
- provide you with information about the dispute resolution option (or options if there is more than one) that are available to you given the nature of your complaint or dispute.

Is the Service confidential?

Yes. We understand that complaints and disputes may involve highly confidential and sensitive information.  All personal information received will be handled confidentially in accordance with our Guidelines, terms and conditions and privacy policy. This means that you can speak with us confidently knowing that we will not contact any other person or organisation about your complaint unless you choose to do so.  

We would only disclose your name or details of your complaint without your consent in extreme circumstances such as where we were required by law to disclose e.g. following a request under the Privacy Act for access to information and where there was no basis on which to refuse that request.

Is there a limitation period on complaints?

No. There is currently no time limit on the historic age of a complaint.

What is the role of the SRCMS team?

It is important to understand the role of the SRCMS team. Each team member:

- is completely impartial and does not take sides in the complaint or dispute;
- is not providing any legal services i.e. does not provide any legal advice or opinion in connection with the complaint or dispute;
- is not there to take a detailed account or sworn witness statement about your complaint;
- is not there to assess or comment on the strength or weakness of a complaint or the evidence in support of it.

The team will:

- inform you whether or not your complaint/dispute is within the scope of the Service;
- provide you with general information about the facilitated resolution services and avenues available to you under the Service. 

What is involved in mediation?

Mediation is a confidential and flexible process where people involved in a dispute come together to try and resolve an issue or reach a negotiated settlement. An impartial third-party mediator facilitates this process. 

In order for mediation to take place, the parties must agree to participate in the process. The mediator does not make a decision about the issues in dispute but rather assists the parties to seek to resolve it. The parties control whether an agreement is reached and the terms of any agreement reached.

If you wish, the mediation can be conducted by online video conference on the Immediation Platform.  

Each party will have the opportunity to put forward their side of the story and any facts or evidence they wish to rely on. The mediator will guide and support the parties throughout the process.

In most cases, the mediation conference will be held within 45 days of the complaint being submitted.

Can I bring a support person to the mediation?

Yes. You are welcome to bring a legal representative or support person to the mediation conference, with the mediator’s agreement.

What happens if my complaint is not within the scope of the Service?

If your complaint or dispute is not within the scope of the Service, it may be that there is another process that you wish to pursue to resolve the issue you have raised (e.g. through Drug Free Sport New Zealand, the Sports Tribunal, Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, Oranga Tamariki and/or the New Zealand Police).  

The Service will help you by providing information about agencies that you may wish to contact. So even if your complaint is outside the scope of the Service, we will provide you with information about available avenues for progressing your complaint.

Where appropriate, the SRCMS team may refer the complaint back to the entity/organisation or appropriate national organisation or to another agency itself. 

What if I want my complaint investigated?

If you raise a complaint that you would like to be investigated, we will assess whether or not an investigative mechanism is available to you under the Service.

If you have any questions in relation to the Protected Disclosures Act, you should contact the Ombudsman and/or obtain your own independent legal advice.

We cannot provide you with legal advice about whether or not you are covered by the Protected Disclosures Act or the steps you should take under that Act.

Is there any cost involved?

The Service is currently fully funded by Sport NZ and so there is no expense for you to access the Service including to: 

- submit a complaint or dispute;
- participate in an early facilitation process;
- participate in a mediation process;
- participate in counselling.

Please note that we do not cover the cost of:
- legal advice and/or representation for you or any party at any stage;
- any settlement that is agreed in connection with a complaint or dispute.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

You may make an anonymous complaint over the phone or through our online portal. 

A dispute resolution process (early facilitation or mediation) will require the participation of both parties and so will be unable to proceed anonymously.

Whether or not you wish to remain anonymous, if you have any safety, wellbeing or other concerns about submitting a complaint, please let the team know when you submit your complaint so we can handle the matter appropriately.

See also FAQ re confidentiality.

What is happening to the Interim Complaints Mechanism?

The Service replaces the Interim Complaints Mechanism (ICM) stood up in 2019. The ICM will no longer be available for new complaints after 22 February 2021* and complaints that would have been raised with the ICM in relation to high performance sport should be directed to the Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service. 

*Exception being complaints pertaining to the recent review into Gymnastics, which are able to continue using the ICM for continuity purposes up until 31 May 2021.

I have already made a complaint to the ICM which is not resolved yet, what will happen to my complaint?

For continuity, all complaints that have been made to the ICM that are currently unresolved will remain with the ICM and they will continue to work with you to resolve your complaint.