The independent panel, comprising Mike Heron QC, Dr Sarah Leberman, Genevieve Macky, and Dr Lesley Nichol, have tabled their findings in a 104-page report that concludes many months of work into the wellbeing aspects of the high performance system and in particular, the cycling programme.
The inquiry panel was not asked to investigate the circumstances surrounding Olivia’s passing, that is now the focus of a Coronial Inquiry.
Before releasing the final report publicly, Mike Heron and Sarah Leberman, along with HPSNZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle, and CNZ Chairperson Phil Holden, met with Olivia’s families. They were given a copy of the report and had the opportunity to discuss the contents in person.
Raelene Castle says HPSNZ understands and appreciates that this is a very difficult time for them.
“We are very sorry for the ongoing hurt the Podmore families are dealing with and again, we convey our deepest sympathies.”
The report tables a range of key findings and among these is a call for HPSNZ and CNZ to take shared responsibility for the trauma some stakeholders still suffer as a result of issues that happened during the Bordeaux Camp in 2016, and its subsequent handling.
Raelene Castle says the first step is to recognise and acknowledge those who are still suffering from these historic incidents.
“I would like to personally acknowledge that some of the people who have contributed to this process continue to be impacted by the events during, and subsequent to, the Bordeaux Camp. It is clear that for them, the issues remain unresolved.
“I am sorry that they continue to suffer this trauma and we would like to engage with them if they think there are any additional steps that would help them with their healing.”
Raelene Castle thanked the panel for their work, and those who took part in the inquiry.
“I’d like to thank the panel for dealing with these challenging topics in the wake of Olivia’s passing. I believe everyone involved shares a desire to see the identified improvements made to the cycling high performance programme, to support existing and next generation athletes into the future.
“We also understand how hard it may have been for some to take part in the inquiry and share reflections while still dealing with deeply personal reactions to the passing of Olivia.
The Terms of Reference for the inquiry included assessing what progress had been made following the recommendations from the 2018 Cycling Report, identifying areas for further improvement in relation to wellbeing and identifying areas for further improvement in relation to Cycling New Zealand’s high performance programme.
It was also tasked with assessing the impact of centralised programmes and the impact of HPSNZ investment on CNZ’s high performance programme.
In summary, the report acknowledges HPSNZ’s commitment to wellbeing, and its awareness of issues and ongoing efforts to improve. It has also highlighted several key focus areas for the future which include:
- A culture change which recognises there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to wellbeing
- Greater clarity around roles, responsibilities and accountabilities between HPSNZ and NSO’s – including Cycling
- More focus on a funding model which prioritises wellbeing
- Centralisation and its effect on athlete wellbeing, if it is not handled well
- Improved transparency around policies and processes
- The need for an athlete body which has organisational and financial independence from governing bodies.
Raelene Castle says HPSNZ accepts the findings, many of which align with work already underway in the organisation’s 2024 strategy.
“Today is about acknowledging people – what they have felt and how we can support them moving forward.
“Next, we will understand exactly what this report means from an HPSNZ perspective and how it can further focus our strategy and direction. Once actions are agreed with the HPSNZ board, we will outline next steps along with details on how we intend to progress them.”
Raelene Castle says she’s committed to working together with high performance partners to build on the wellbeing support already in place for individuals and the environments within the high performance system.
“Wellbeing and performance are not mutually exclusive and must be considered together. Our 2024 Strategy features Wellbeing and Engagement as a key pillar and we have made moves towards system-wide change. This report will further challenge us all to keep improving.”
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