Bullying, body-shaming: Inquiry digs into 'toxic' Hockeyroos culture

The Hockeyroos huddle during the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers match between the Australian Hockeyroos and Russia in October last year. Photo: Getty Images
The Hockeyroos huddle during the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers match between the Australian Hockeyroos and Russia in October last year. Photo: Getty Images
Hockey Australia believes "factions have firmly emerged" within the Hockeyroos' squad following the shock axings of star goalkeeper Rachael Lynch and former captain Georgina Morgan.

The independent inquiry into allegations of a toxic culture was launched on Thursday, with the findings expected to be handed down in February.

The full findings will be kept secret, with only a summary of key themes set to be released publicly.

Explosive allegations of bullying, body shaming, and homophobic behaviour have emerged over the past month, throwing the elite women's hockey program into chaos.

HA reached out to current and former players and staff to participate in the inquiry.

Lawyer Richard Redman, who was a legal counsel for Cronulla Sharks during their supplements saga, will head the inquiry alongside Ernst & Young partner Adam Carrel.

The players received an email from Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier earlier this week detailing the inquiry process.

He also included a terms of reference attachment which had a background and overview of the situation, plus a scope of the inquiry.

"Following a very disappointing Rio Olympic Games, where both the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras were considered to have significantly underperformed, a review was undertaken that revealed several concerning issues of behaviour and culture within both programs," the terms of reference document said.

"Hockey Australia undertook to implement the recommendations from this review, which at the time resulted in widespread changes to the leadership of the program, including a complete change of all coaching and support staff.

"Despite the efforts that Hockey Australia feels it has made since Rio to address the variety of issues, and to also prepare a credible team for the Olympic Games, the recent external comments by players and staff have raised concerns by the Board of Hockey Australia."

Some Hockeyroos players threatened to strike after Lynch and Morgan were axed from the 2021 squad last week.

In recent weeks the players have held meetings amongst themselves - as well as with Hockey Australia management - to air concerns about various aspects.

It's believed at least one player involved in a player-only meeting several weeks ago broke the trust of the group by revealing details to team management.

HA acknowledged the axing of Lynch and Morgan had a big effect on the player group.

"This decision has generated broad media attention and created a significantly heightened level of anxiety within the current player group towards Hockey Australia and where factions have firmly emerged within the squad," the terms of reference said.

Some players are reluctant to speak out against team management, fearing their position in the side could be put in jeopardy.

HA has assured the players that their input into the inquiry will be anonymous.

Former players have heavily criticised HA high performance director Toni Cumpston, while coach Paul Gaudoin is also under the pump.


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