2. First meeting with the respondent

Adam: Kate, thanks very much for
coming along to talk to me today. An issue has come up concerning one of
your players and I was wanting to raise that with you and talk to you about it.
Kate: Okay, yes, fine. Adam: It’s a complaint made by Maddie,
one of your players, and it concerns comments that she’s alleged that you’ve
made concerning her race and the fact that she is not from Australia.
She’s also raised concerns about the amount of game time that she gets, and
she believes that she gets less game time because of her race. Well, I’ve asked you to come along today
to hear your version of events. I’ve already heard from Maddie.
And so ensure this is a fair process, under our membership policy —
Kate: You’re taking it seriously? Adam: We are taking this
matter seriously. The club has a member protection policy —
Kate: Oh, come on. Adam: — and we need to have a look at
these allegations and to ensure that the parties to it are treated fairly. And part of that is for me to ask you
to respond to the allegations. Like I said, we’ve already heard from Maddie
and I want to hear your version of events. So I’d like to step you through the complaint,
through each of the allegations, and to get a response
from you to each allegation. Kate: So what’s going to happen?
I’m going to get sacked, am I? Adam: Let’s not get carried away here. What I think we could do firstly
is to get your response. But if the complaint can’t be resolved, then Maddie could take it to the committee
for the committee to investigate, or she could take it to an external
representative body for her sport or she could complain to an external
anti-discrimination board. But what we’re doing now at this stage
is getting your version of events. Kate: Ah, this is a joke. Adam: Okay, look, I can appreciate that
you are concerned, but we do need to step you through the allegations and I’m very
keen to hear your version of events. It’s only fair that —
Kate: Good. Adam: — you’re given an
opportunity to reply. Kate: I’m glad.
Adam: Okay, Kate, I’m going to be taking some notes about your response
to the complaint. I want you to know that this information
will be treated confidentially and the information that I gather from you and
make notes on and will only be shared with people who need to know about it,
who might be involved in the complaint, or people on the committee who might need
to make a decision about the complaint. Now, this is a process that has worked
well in the past and it’s designed to protect both yourself and Maddie.
And I’d like to talk about the particular comments that she’s alleged that you’ve made,
and I’ll go through them. She says that on occasions, you’ve
made comments referring to her race, like, “You might do things like
that where you come from. We do things differently here.”
Kate: Ah, silly. Adam: “Is that how you play
in your village back home? It’s not good enough here.” Kate: Not true. Adam: “Well, you won’t need sunscreen,
will you?” is another comment. Now, she says that the sunscreen comment
was made two weeks ago during the warmup for Saturday’s match.
She says that some of the other comments were made during training.
She feels that you are putting her down, that you make fun of her because of her race,
and that she’s embarrassed and doesn’t feel part of the team. Now what would you say in response
to those claims? Kate: Well, I don’t remember saying
those things at all. Anyway, if I did, I don’t see what
the problem is. She just doesn’t understand
how we do things here. What’s wrong with saying that? What’s wrong with making
that type of comment? Adam: So Kate, are you saying that you
didn’t make those comments to Maddie or are you saying that you don’t
remember if you did or not? Kate: I’m saying I didn’t make any comments
like that whatsoever, all right? Adam: Okay, Kate, let’s move on to the
next issue, and this concerns comments that Maddie overheard or
said she overheard. And the comments are, “She says that there
are too many Asians coming to the country. It’s becoming like little Chinatown here
and that there should be sign up at the airport saying, ‘Australia is full.
Go back to where you came from.'” What’s your response to
those allegations? Kate: I didn’t say anything about
Chinatown or anything like that. Adam: So do you recall exactly
the conversation you were having with Bill? Do you remember exactly what was said?
Kate: Probably talking about sport. We always talk about sport.
European football. Gee, we talk about all sorts of things. I didn’t mention anything about
Chinatown or, you know. I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s just a private conversation
Bill and I are having. Adam: Okay, look, it’s — a player may be
offended by comments that they overhear being made by the coach, particularly
if it’s comments about their race. And if that’s the case, then comments like
that could present a problem for the club, under its member protection policy.
It could also present problems under state and federal discrimination law.
And that’s exactly why the club can’t turn a blind eye to issues like this.
We can’t ignore complaints. If we were to do so, it could get
the club into serious trouble. So what about Maddie’s concern that she
doesn’t get as much game time as the other players?
Tell me a little bit about circumstances there. Kate: That’s true. She doesn’t get as much game
time as the others. She turns up late for training.
When she turns up, she’s standoffish. Adam: Okay.
So you agree then that she doesn’t get as much game time as the other players?
Kate: Yes. Adam: And what’s the reason
for that, do you believe? Kate: She’s late for training
and she’s standoffish. Adam: What do you mean by “standoffish?” Kate: She doesn’t join in.
She doesn’t get involved. She’s just not one of the team.
Adam: Okay. So you’re saying that she doesn’t
fit in with the team. You are saying then that it’s not
necessarily because of her race? Kate: Yes. Nothing to do with it.
Adam: It’s because of her attitude? Okay, all right.
Kate: Geez. Adam: Look, I might just go back through
your responses to each of the complaints that have been made. I’ll just go over those again so I’m clear
in my mind that I understand your responses to the allegations.
Kate: Okay. Well, I can tell you I’m going to take this
— I’m not going to take this lying down. I don’t see how we can work this out.
She is lying and I’m not. It’s that simple.
I think her calling me a racist is defamation, isn’t it?
Maybe I should sue her. Adam: Okay, Kate, I appreciate that you’re
very upset about this, but what you said about defamation may not be correct.
Defamation relates to false statements made publicly.
The fact that someone raises concerns of this nature within a confidential complaint
process is quite a different matter. Kate: Well, we’ll see about that.
So what’s going to happen now? Adam: Now, if Maddie wants to take the
matter further, it may be necessary for the club to gain information from other people,
to speak to other people about the concerns. But I will keep you updated
as we go along. Kate: Yes. Adam: Okay, Kate, our club policy, our
member protection policy has been around for as long as you’ve been with the club,
and it sets out what the club expects of its players and coaches when a complaint
of this nature has been raised. Kate: So you’re going to
tell me what to say? Adam: No, I won’t be telling you what to say,
but it’s important that you sort of adhere to certain issues.
Kate: I can and can’t do, huh? Adam: Well, it’s important that you treat
matters confidential, that nothing is done to make Maddie feel as though she is
being punished for having made a complaint. It’s very important that our players
feel comfortable in being able to raise complaints and they don’t feel as though
they’re going to be punished because they make a complaint.
So specifically concerning Maddie, I hope that you wouldn’t do anything to make her
feel as though she is being punished for making the complaint, that you’re going
to talk to her about the complaint. Kate: That’s going to be hard.
She’s still on the team. Adam: Yes, I can appreciate that
you obviously need to talk to her while she is still in the team but it would
be appropriate for you to talk to her about the complaint. Okay, this specifically means that you
shouldn’t talk to Maddie about the complaint. You shouldn’t punish her in any
way for bringing the complaint. If you are to do this, it could be grounds
for further action by the club grounds for a further complaint under
our member protection policy, and it could make matters worse in fact.
Does this make sense to you? Kate: I suppose so.
Adam: Okay. It’s also important that you don’t talk
to other people about the complaint. This has been stressed to Maddie as well.
Confidentiality must work both ways here. Do you understand?
Kate: Yes. Adam: Do you have any questions?
Kate: None at the moment. Adam: Okay, Kate, feel free to call me
if you want to talk about this further, if you got any questions.
But thanks very much for coming and talking to me.
Kate: Thank you.

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