Child Protection and Safeguarding Children

The NRL are committed to promoting a safe environment for all children and to assist staff, officials, players, coaches, members and volunteers to recognise child protection issues and safeguarding procedures. As a sport, we must always place the safety and welfare of children above all other considerations.


Rugby league administrators, officials, members and volunteers often have a high level of interaction with children and young people. As such, they play a major part in providing a safe and positive environment for them to participate. Coaches, in particular, work closely with children and young people, and have important responsibilities for ensuring their safety and welfare. 

The NRL are committed to promoting a safe environment for all children and to assisting staff, officials, players, coaches, members and volunteers to fulfil their child protection and safeguarding responsibilities. As a sport, we must always place the safety and welfare of children first.  

The NRL Member Protection Policy (6.1) outlines the policies and processes that ensure a safe, positive environment for children and young people. Additionally, the NRL National Junior League  Code of Conduct  highlights appropriate behaviours when dealing with children. 

The NRL Risk Management Guide also provides useful safeguarding information specifically for Coaches & Officials. 

How to be a child safe organisation 

Implementing effective child safe policies and practices at your club/association is one of the best ways to protect the children involved in your organisation and reduce potential environmental risks. 

It is also important to have a child-centered focus, that includes children as active participants in your organisation and has child-friendly complaint mechanisms. 

A child safe approach uses a range of responses to manage the potential risks in individual environments. The Royal Commission have identified 10 key elements that are needed to create a child safe institution. These include:

  1. Child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture.  
  2. Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously. 
  3. Families and communities are informed and involved.  
  4. Equity is promoted and diversity respected.  
  5. People working with children are suitable and supported.  
  6. Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focussed. 
  7. Staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training. 
  8. Physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur.  
  9. Implementation of child safe standards is continuously reviewed and improved.  
  10.  Policies and procedures document how the institution is child safe. 

Play by the Rules has also developed useful facts sheets which outline strategies for Parents, Coaches and Clubs/Associations in creating safe environments for children in sport. 


Working With Children Checks 

One way to manage the potential risks in your individual environment is to ensure your club/association meet their Working With Children Check legal obligations. Working With Children Checks aim to create a child-safe environment and to protect children and young people involved in our sport from physical and sexual abuse. They assess the suitability of people to work with children and young people and can involve:

  • Criminal history checks; 
  • Signed declarations; 
  • Referee checks, and; 
  • Other relevant background checks to assess a person’s suitability to work with children and young people.  

Details on screening requirements and the WWCC process are highlighted in the NRL Member Protection Policy. Play by the Rules also has useful information for steps on how to respond to allegations of child abuse and a handy Reference Guide for all relevant agencies and contacts. 

Note that Working With Children Check requirements vary across Australia. It is important to remember that when travelling to other states or territories, your club/ organisation must comply with their legislative requirements. Click here for further information on Working With Children Checks and Police Checks.  

Taking images of children

A high level of care needs to be exercised by clubs and associations when dealing with the issue of photo images/videos of children. There have been a number of instances where photos of children in sporting magazines and videos on sporting websites have been misused and/or altered for inappropriate purposes.  

The NRL urges all clubs and associations to be aware of such risks and to take steps, where possible, to minimise them. This includes having a comprehensive policy in place together with easy to use consent forms. Promoting the issues and correct process to members is very important. See the Member Protection Policy (6.2) Taking  on taking images of children which highlights how to minimise risks and Play by the Rules also has a useful fact sheet for guidance on taking images of children. 


There are a range of free online and face-to-face training courses to enhance your skills and knowledge of child protection and creating safe environments, including: