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Move for parliament to probe Crows camp

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EXCLUSIVE | The Adelaide Crows and the AFL could be hauled before State Parliament to account for the club’s notorious 2018 preseason camp, with a motion calling for a committee probe into whether workplace laws were breached, InDaily can reveal.

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The controversial camp, run in conjunction with private mind training firm Collective Mind, has been linked to a player exodus and the club’s subsequent spiral from finals contention, while claims continue to emerge about what occurred.

Treasurer Rob Lucas, who has portfolio oversight of Safework SA, told parliament yesterday that while the workplace safety body had received “no notifications or complaints against the Adelaide Football Club in relation to their pre-season camp in 2018”, it “is looking into the matter”.

But Greens MLC Tammy Franks, a member of state parliament’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee, will today tell parliament she is moving “to request Safework SA, the Adelaide Crows Football Club and the AFL present to the committee on whether or not workplace laws have been breached with the controversial Crows camp”.

“South Australians love footy, many of them even love the Crows – but that passion and loyalty shouldn’t translate to putting players at risk in their workplace,” she will tell parliament.

A report in The Age this month detailed several allegations of the goings-on during the Gold Coast camp, including that players were initially greeted by men in army fatigues carrying fake guns, that they were intermittently blindfolded and that one player was initially denied medical aid after fainting during one team exercise.

It also alleged players were split into three groups, with one group’s members being tied to a tree and ordered to crawl towards a nearby knife to cut themselves free, while teammates were encouraged to hurl increasingly personal abuse.

My hope is that the use of the parliamentary committee to address the issues of the Crows camp will not just reveal answers – but compel action

Franks said the “bizarre practices” reported “shouldn’t be let loose on any workplace, let alone one which is seen as a role model to so many”.

“If even half of these reports are true, these practices appear akin to hazing and initiation that [could be] in breach of workplace safety laws,” she said.

An AFL investigation cleared the club of any wrongdoing, but Franks says that finding “calls the AFL’s standards into question”.

“My hope is that the use of the parliamentary committee to address the issues of the Crows camp will not just reveal answers – but compel action,” she said.

InDaily has spoken to several members of the committee who have indicated they would consider supporting such a motion. It is chaired by Liberal MP Stephen Patterson, a former AFL player for Collingwood.

While invited witnesses could initially refuse to appear, parliament has the power to summon them.

InDaily sought a response from the Adelaide Football Club, which declined to comment.

Former coach Don Pyke said in his ABC Grandstand commentary role last week that linking the camp to the club’s drop-off in form – it currently sits last on the AFL ladder – was “a long bow to draw”.

“I think the list at Adelaide is going through a transitional phase, there’s no question about that… we’ve seen that some players have left the club for various reasons,” he said.

“I think if you asked those guys some of them would go ‘Well, the performance now has nothing to do with what happened on a camp two-and-a-half years ago’… it’s disappointing that it’s continuing to be discussed. Clearly the club’s viewpoint is that they want to move on.

“I know that talking to some of the players who are still there they clearly want to leave that behind and focus on their footy going forward.

“I think it’s probably a conversation that’s due with the club about how they wish to address this once and for all… the intention around that camp was very clear (but) the execution had some gaps and holes and some mistakes were made.”

However, he also noted “there’s an issue at the moment with some context around some of the things that were done and the purpose behind those, which probably hasn’t been tabled”.

Premier Steven Marshall, whose Department of Premier and Cabinet CEO Jim McDowell resigned from the Crows board this month, recently suggested a Safework SA investigation into the camp would be “an interesting thing to explore”.

“I think everybody who goes to any work environment should be safe from bullying or intimidation, so I think that there are some genuine concerns about what went on,” Marshall said earlier this month.

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