Annual Report 2015/2016

The Combat Sports Commission Annual Report 2015/2016 reports and financial statements, including the year's highlights, Chairman's report, Commissioner profiles, issues and trends and financial reporting.

Chairman’s report

The 2015/2016 financial year was a productive yet challenging year for the Combat Sports Commission (the Commission) with a number of new initiatives being implemented and a number of changes to the composition of the Commission.

Changes to Commissioner Positions

This year saw two changes in the membership of the Commission with Alex McKenzie and Detective Inspector Tom Clay moving on.

Alex McKenzie decided not to seek reappointment to the position that represents persons who are or have been registered as contestants in a class relevant to boxing, leaving the Commission in January 2016. Alex’s main contribution related to advice in the areas of financial management and corporate governance, these being areas in which he has considerable experience.  I thank Alex for his contribution to the Commission and wish him well in his retirement.

Tom Clay was the representative of the Commissioner of Police. He was reassigned to another division within the WA Police in December 2015.   Tom provided a vital link between the Police and the Commission and valuable insight into matters relating to the application of fit and proper person requirements specified in the Act.  I thank Tom for his contribution to the Commission and wish him well in his new role.

In January 2016 the Commission welcomed Inspector Mark Longman as the new representative of the Commissioner of Police.  Mark comes from a strong community policing background and this is his first appointment to the Commission.  I welcome Mark to the Commission and thank him for his contribution to date.

Drug testing

I am pleased to advise that the Commission finalised arrangements during the year to implement random drug testing at contests.  This is the culmination of many months work by the Commission’s staff and would not be possible without the services and guidance of ChemCentre and Mediscreen.

As clearly outlined in the Commission’s Position Statement on Drug Testing, the Commission takes a zero tolerance approach to banned drugs and substances in combat sports.  The implementing of this program will help ensure the integrity of the combat sports industry and go some way to addressing the concerns raised by the Australian Sports Anti‑Doping Authority (ASADA) at the integrity in sport forum held in 2015.

Padding Requirements

March 2016 marked three years since the implementation of additional protective padding requirements for junior and novice contestants.  Whilst these requirements are still not accepted by some sections of the industry, I am pleased with the overwhelmingly positive feedback that the Commission has received on this matter.  Most of this positive feedback has been from parents of juniors who would not have allowed their children to compete if it were not for the implementation of these padding requirements.

On this topic the Australian Institute of Sport and Australian Medical Association launched their Concussion in Sport website, in June 2016.  This is a great resource for contestants and trainers and shows how far ahead of the game combat sports have been in the management of concussion. 

I was also interested to note that the topic of protective headgear in sport is raised on this website stating that whilst there is no clear evidence that the use of head guards increases or decreases the risk of concussion they do play an important role in reducing the risk of skull fracture and subdural hematoma.

Policy Work

The Commission has undertaken a significant amount of policy work during 2015/2016 reviewing or implementing a range of policies to guide Commission decision making and provide greater clarity to the industry.

The most notable policies that were reviewed or implemented during the year were:

  • the Exhibition Events Policy – Boxing and Muay Thai,
  • the Fit and Proper Person Policy – Promoters,
  • the Fit and Proper Person Policy – Other than Promoters,
  • the Pregnancy Testing Policy, and
  • the Code of Conduct for Contestants and Industry Participants.

Steps are being taken to ensure that these policies are available to the general public through the Commission website and this work will be completed in the coming months.

In addition to these policies the Conditions of Registration were also reviewed during the year with a view to making them more concise and clearer for registrants.  Previously large sections of these conditions were devoted to requirements already clearly spelt out in permit conditions or the Act and Regulations.  These sections have now been removed and the updated document has been added to the Commission website for contestant and industry participant information.

Mixed Martial Arts Risk Review

The Mixed Martial Arts Risk Review continued into 2015/2016 with little progress.  The purpose of this review was to ensure that the Commission was doing all it could to safeguard the health and safety of MMA contestants in the absence of a fenced enclosure or ‘cage’.

I am disappointed to report that the review has stalled in the consultation stage as members of the industry are not interested in providing their feedback.  Time and again the Commission is criticised for not listening to or consulting with the industry however when a significant opportunity such as this is presented, industry members are not interested in even participating in a phone interview.  It remains to be seen what impact this lack of response will have on the regulation of MMA contests in Western Australia into the future.  Commission staff are now working with the consultant to determine whether further work is worth pursuing.

Chairman’s Resignation

In May 2016 I announced that I would be resigning from the Commission effective from 31 July 2016.  This is due to an increase in workload in my professional life which has not left me with the time to dedicate to the Chairman’s role.  I have really enjoyed the last five or so years as Chairman and have learnt so much about combat sports. I would like to thank the current Minister for Sport and Recreation, the Hon. Mia Davies and the previous Minister the Hon. Terry Waldron for their support during my tenure. 

I wish to publically acknowledge the efforts of Greg McGuire, Stacey Newton, Tracey Beckwith, Antoni Grover, Lisa Pearson and Alice Ferro. It is their commitment and professionalism that ensures the smooth running of the Commission. Each of them made my task as Chairman extremely easy.

I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of all members of the Commission, with specific acknowledgement of Commissioners Derrick Chan and Dean Woodhams.  Both of these Commissioners has a significant level of knowledge and experience in combat sports and has attended the majority of promotions in 2015/2016.  I thank them for their dedication and personal assistance that they have provided to me.

Recently retired Magistrate Paul Heaney has been appointed as my successor in the Chairman’s role. His experience will be an invaluable asset to the Commission and I wish him well.

On behalf of the Commission, I would like to again thank the Hon. Mia Davies for her support of the Commission and would also like to personally commend all Commission members and support staff for their efforts in enforcing the Act during the year.

Seamus Rafferty
Commission Chairman
July 2016