Becoming an Australian Gymnastics Coach

Why would a person think of becoming an Australian gymnastics coach? Is nature or nurture the inspiration prompting the decision to follow this path?

The Nature of Physical Activity

Some children are active right from the start. They pull themselves up to reach further, to grasp something which is just out of their reach. When they fall they pick themselves up and try again. Yet a physically active child can become frustrated when activity is prevented.

The Process of Nurture

An active child benefits when given the opportunity to achieve new skills. Gymnastics can provide a diverse range of physical activities which the child may not experience otherwise.

A parent may choose to take the young child to gymnastics sessions to give a productive outlet for all the excess energy. Hopefully the child will then be tired enough to rest after the session. Yet often the sport is a family affair, with a parent having been a gymnast, and maybe still a participant in a club.

A Pathway to Becoming a Coach

When a child feels satisfaction in participating in gymnastics, then the activity can become long term. Social connections are made with other group members, and what started as a recreational activity can evolve into being part of a competitive squad. The young gymnast moves up the levels until a plateau of achievement is reached. This may be around Level 6 or 7 for many Australian gymnasts.

The early teenage gymnast has been a participant for most of her, or his, young life, so what now?

Many clubs will encourage these young gymnasts to remain in the sport. They will be invited to be assistant coaches and help to supervise the younger children in gym activities.

Legal Requirements

All states in Australia have mandatory requirements for school attendance and any employment of young people must not compromise their school learning activities. They also require accurate record keeping of an employed child’s work hours and activities, as only defined light work is allowed to be done.

Employment can be voluntary or paid: it is work carried out at the direction of the employer.

In Victoria, a permit must be obtained by the employer from the relevant business authority before a child under 15 years of age can be employed. The youngest age that a child can be employed in a gym is 13 years.This work can only be for a maximum of 3 hours per day and 12 hours per week including rest breaks. They can start no earlier than 6:00 am and finish no later than 9:00 pm but not work during school hours during the school term.

Similarly, in Queensland the minimum age for employment is 13, with a maximum work load of 4 hours per day and 12 hours per week.

In the ACT children under 15 can only be employed with the informed, written consent of the parent, and the informed consent of the child, for a maximum of 10 hours per week. Employment during school hours is not allowed, nor is employment permitted at late or early hours which may compromise school activities.

The authorities in WA require written permission from the parent, for a child aged 12 - 14 years to work between the hours of 6:00 am - 10:00 pm, but not during school hours. Record keeping is important.

In SA there is no minimum working age, but a child between the ages of 6 - 16 years cannot work during school hours.

In NSW there is no minimum legal age limit to start work. Children are required to attend school from 6 - 17 years of age.

In all states in Australia, provision of adequate supervision and appropriate work safety standards are required to protect the young person from hazards.

An inspection of the workplace can be carried out by the authorities at any time.

Legal Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of all gymnastics clubs to ensure they are compliant with the relevant laws for employing young people in their state. There are very large financial penalties for not doing so.

It is the responsibility of all parents of young assistant coaches to ensure that the employer, the gymnastics club, is complying with the legal requirements under which the child is employed.

It is the responsibility of the young employed person to let somebody in authority know if anything is happening which they have doubts about.

Child exploitation, of any kind, should be prevented before it can become established.

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