This week has provided yet more challenges as we navigate our way through the COVID-19 affected 2020.

As you know, our intent was to provide an update on 1 June, but due to a pending State Government announcement that update was held back. On some items we now have more questions than answers. However, we want to continue to keep you as informed as possible, with the below being the latest information available.

Government Announcement on 2 June

On Tuesday 2 June, the State Government announced that community sport could re-commence from 1 July for those aged 18 and under. Further, it was noted that a decision on a potential return date for adult community sport will be made ‘at a later stage.’ Netball NSW has been vocal in the media stating that it is unacceptable and potentially unworkable for volunteers to continue to plan with such uncertainty. We sincerely hope this message is heard quickly and that a date for senior sport is announced very soon.

In the meantime it is important that planning continues based on what we do know. We are staying positive in our outlook and remain hopeful that a return date for seniors will be announced soon, however this is out of our control and therefore is reflected in the information below. 

Although the State Government have determined a date for 18 and under competitions to re-commence, there has been no further detail provided. We are seeking it for you urgently. At this stage we don’t know what the cut-off date is for ’18 and under’ nor do we know when the 10 people maximum training restrictions will be lifted or what the State Government’s ‘safety plan’ looks like. There has been no clarification or further information made available. 

Netball NSW COVID-19 Toolkit

In the absence of clear guidance from the State Government, Netball NSW has used all of the available information (from the Australian Institute of Sport, Sport Australia and Netball Australia) to put together a suite of resources for Associations and Clubs which we believe will enable planning to continue for a return to training and playing. 

On 15 May Netball NSW provided resources (information and infographics) to assist with the return of training in groups of 10 and to ensure this was done safely. We have now added significantly more resources to a COVID-19 Toolkit which provides guidance on hygiene protocols, venue requirements and COVID-19 safety plans. These resources will also be updated and added to promptly if and/or when State Government policies or regulations change.

To access all of the Netball NSW resources visit: nsw.netball.com.au/covid-19-toolkit

It is very important that the netball community continue to strictly follow the State Government advice to ensure that a return to play remains on track and that the health and wellbeing of everyone involved is a priority. At all times the prevailing Public Health Orders, and any additional requirements which may be imposed by the State Government, must be adhered to with any training or competition which takes place. 

Club Netball and Suncorp NetSetGO

Starting dates of Association’s Club Netball competitions (for those aged 18 and under) and NetSetGO programs are at the discretion of individual Associations and can now re-commence from 1 July. The previously recommended start date of Saturday 18 July (end of mid-year school holidays) is a date which many Associations may have been planning for, and these plans can now be locked in. Currently training is still restricted to non-contact in groups of no more than 10.
    
Origin Premier League

The structure of the Premier League competition has been amended since the last update. The competition will commence with Round 1 on Wednesday 22 July. Premier League will now for run for 13 weeks plus a two-week finals series, with Grand Finals scheduled for Wednesday 28 October. The fixture will be released on 24 June. In line with the State Government’s 2 June announcement, Premier League is now contingent on a start date for senior community sport being announced.

Dooleys Metro League

Plans for the Metro League competition remain as per the previous update with Round 1 being held in the week commencing Monday 27 July. The competition will include nine rounds (all teams playing each other once) with a shortened finals series. Grand Finals only (between first and second on the ladder following minor rounds) will be played from Monday 28 September. In line with the State Government’s 2 June announcement, Metro League is now contingent on a start date for senior community sport being announced.

Bing Lee Regional Leagues

Tentative Regional League dates have now been set by each Region. These dates can now be viewed on the 2020 Key Dates document which is available to view and download here: nsw.netball.com.au/competitions

The Regional State Cup, which was due to be held on the weekend of 10-11 October, has been suspended for 2020 and will return in 2021.

Court Craft Summer Series 

A shorter Summer Series season is currently being planned with a final competition format still to be determined. It is currently anticipated that the season will commence in mid-late October.

2020 Association Carnivals

The revised 2020 Association Carnival Calendar is now available to view and download on the Netball NSW website here: nsw.netball.com.au/competitions

It is important to note that the running of carnivals in 2020 will be required to comply with the Government restrictions in place at the time with regard to the size of gatherings, total people allowed at a venue, social distancing and hygiene requirements. These restrictions are subject to change and it is the responsibility of the host Association to ensure that their event will comply with the restrictions in force at the time.

Carnival categories as listed on the calendar, including age groups, may change. It is strongly suggested that Associations consider the format of their carnival and think about the size of the carnival and alternate options should numbers be restricted. Options may include working with an Association in their region to jointly host a carnival splitting the age groups across two or three Associations. 
         
Competitions already underway

Competitions which were already underway and were suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions can re-commence at the Association’s discretion from 1 July provided the competition is for players aged 18 and under only and that all Public Health Orders are adhered to. 

Scheduling should however provide adequate time for players to prepare for the various levels of netball they will participate in, to limit the possibility of injury.  

2020 Key Dates

The revised 2020 Key Dates document, sorted by each Netball NSW event, is now available to download and view on the Netball NSW website. Visit nsw.netball.com.au/competitions

Performance and Pathway Programs

Performance and Pathways Programs including the QBE Swifts Academy, GIANTS Academy, Emerging Talent, Regional Emerging Talent and Regional Academy of Sport Programs are continuing to focus on supporting the long -term individual development of identified athletes.

Programs have adapted to adjust to the unprecedented circumstances and will continue to adapt to ensure an optimum balance of development, load management and recovery when competition resumes.

Walking Netball and Fast5

Walking Netball Competitions (Social or Traditional), Walking Netball Exercise Classes and Fast5 Netball Competition start dates are at the discretion of individual Associations hosting programs and/or Netball NSW depending on who is running the program. Consideration must be given to the current Public Health Order which stipulates only non-contact training in groups of no more than 10. Similarly, the State Government’s 2 June announcement regarding competitions being restricted to those aged 18 and under from 1 July will impact many Walking Netball and Fast5 programs. Netball NSW is considering a Term 3 start for these programs where possible. 

Hart State Titles 

Netball NSW regards the State Title events as one of the most important elements of competition which takes place in NSW each year. With the huge logistical planning and cost which goes in to these events, both from Netball NSW and Associations, plus the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the number of people who will be permitted to be at any one location at a time, Netball NSW has made some significant changes to the structure of the host venues for 2020. A Memo has been prepared and can be viewed here.

Bing Lee Masters State Titles, Opens State Titles and Social Masters

Masters competitions are currently scheduled for the weekend of 17-18 October. In line with the State Government’s 2 June announcement, these competitions are now contingent on a start date for senior community sport being announced. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

Insurance

Netball NSW has received a number of enquiries around insurance and what Clubs and Associations are covered for under the netball industry policy. Below is information received from the Netball NSW insurance managers:

The Netball NSW Public Liability and Personal Accident Insurance policies are still current and active.
Whilst there is not an exclusion on the Public Liability Insurance policy relating to COVID-19 directly, Netball Australia and its members have a duty to exercise reasonable precautions to prevent personal injury and property damage and to comply with all statutory obligations, by-laws or regulations imposed by any public authority in respect of the safety of persons or property. If Clubs and/or Associations did not comply with State Government regulations, for example by ignoring social distancing or self-isolation requirements, then insurers may deny a claim on the argument that you breached this duty of care. 

We would highly recommend members take every effort to follow all governmental guidelines enacted in accordance with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please also be reminded that the Personal Accident insurance does not cover any type of illness, such as that which may arise from infection with COVID-19 (in the same way it would not cover the flu). 

Finally, Associations should be aware that the Directors and Officers policy covers the Association for honest mistakes made by Directors and Officers involved in the management of the affairs of the organisation. However, this coverage would not extend to decisions made which are illegal or contravened a Government Public Health Order. Provided Netball NSW, Associations and Clubs act legally and in accordance with Government Orders (such as limits on gatherings and social distancing), then the relevant organisation and its Directors and Officers are covered under the policy. 

Registration and Refunds

Netball NSW has been consistent in its approach to the refund of registration fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout we have acknowledged that refunds may well be necessary and that we would provide full and detailed information on how this would be handled once the final format of the season was confirmed. 

Netball NSW will release an addendum to the Affiliation & Membership Policy specifically addressing the unique circumstances caused by COVID-19 and how any refunds will be managed once a final position on the season (including senior players) is known. We are fully aware of recent information which has been released by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) and our policy will abide by the principles they have outlined.

Finally it is worth stating again that these are circumstances which no sporting organisations have had to navigate before. Any refund process will be complex and difficult, so we want to ensure that if it is ultimately required we do it once, we do it properly and we do it in a way which means we safeguard the entire netball ecosystem to the best of our ability. We thank you for your ongoing patience in this regard.

Ongoing Review

Netball NSW is committed to continuing to pursue a re-commencement date for senior netball as quickly as possible. We will continue to provide updates on this as well as when any significant changes to State Government Orders or restrictions are made. Further, any changes to the matters outlined above in this Memo will also be communicated promptly. We expect that the coming weeks may involve a large amount of information being provided as we seek to keep you as informed as possible as we prepare for the re-start of netball. 

Once again, we thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding and wish you the very best of health.

– Carolyn Campbell, CEO – Netball NSW

I have seen many things in my time as the proud Chief Executive Officer of Netball NSW but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a situation quite like that in which we find ourselves today. 

This should be one of the busiest times of the year as grassroots Clubs and Associations across New South Wales ramp up for the traditional season, our Underage State Teams look to impress at Nationals and our professional sides – the NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball – finalise preparations for Suncorp Super Netball.

Instead it is eerily quiet. 

Covid-19 has created a horrible situation for everyone across Australia. Members of our netball community at all levels are already very aware of this, and I would like to thank them again for their efforts in pulling together for the greater good at this time of national crisis.

Unfortunately, there is more pain to come. As of close of business today Netball NSW is significantly scaling back its operations due to the impact of Covid-19. 

In simple terms, this means a large proportion of the Netball NSW workforce has now been stood down. At present a skeleton staff remains in place across the business to assist our netball community, however, it may mean that response times are slightly longer in some instances.

These are unprecedented times and we are all impacted. It has been an incredibly difficult decision to make. 

It was heartbreaking to give the bad news to so many dedicated, hard-working staff who consistently go above and beyond to put netball in a better place – be that in schools, at local courts, in events and the high-performance space. This response was necessary, but that didn’t make it any easier. 

Our sport, like every other walk of life, has been hit by a Covid-19 whirlwind that was going to make decisions like these unavoidable. We sincerely hope to see many of these people at the other side, when the madness has ended. Unfortunately, given we’ll be in recovery mode once Covid-19 passes, some roles had to be made redundant.     

Today’s action means we are in better position to remain sustainable and bounce back when the Coronavirus passes. It won’t ease the immediate pain and stress but I would thank our affected staff for their professionalism and understanding, without which we couldn’t take definitive action to protect our future.      

As we move into this holding pattern I would like our Clubs and Associations to rest assured that Netball NSW continues to work on critical items, none more important than that of financial matters, of which we have already sent correspondence to nominated recipients. 

Email addresses throughout the business will include auto-reply information on how to address enquiries, however the general Netball NSW phone number of 9951 5000 will continue to answered in order to direct your enquiry to the relevant person.  

As the CEO of this organisation for over 15 years there have been so many moments to smile about. Today is not one of them, but there is comfort in the knowledge we’re doing what’s best for the long-term. 

We will be playing netball again, it will just take some time.

Best wishes and stay safe, 

Carolyn Campbell, CEO Netball NSW

As the COVID-19 situation continues to escalate, Netball NSW is updating its guidance which was originally issued
on Monday 16 March 2020, consistent with the changing Government advice and recommendations.

From today, Netball NSW wishes to advise that it has adopted the following guidance with regard to all community netball competitions.

To assist with infection control and in the absence of a defined position on community sport from Government, it is the strong recommendation of Netball NSW that all community netball competitions in NSW should be suspended until Saturday 2nd May 2020. This, in our view, includes all activity: playing, training, grading, umpire training etc. – at all levels up to and including Metro League/ Regional League.

However, we note that some of these activities may be subject to a risk analysis on a case by case basis.

While this is obviously an unfortunate disruption to the netball season, Netball NSW believes that a blanket guidance such as this leaves all Associations, clubs, players, coaches, officials and administrators in the state in the same position while we watch developments around COVID-19.

It is important to note that the season is not being cancelled. At this time, the recommended action is seen as a socially responsible position for the netball community in NSW to take.

Netball NSW will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis. A formal update will be provided on Wednesday 15 April, 2020 (the Wednesday after Easter). This update will include the latest information on competition start dates plus advice on recommencing training etc. If the situation is to change significantly, an update will be provided earlier.

The reason for the guidance applying at the level of Metro League/Regional League and below is purely based on the volume of people congregating at any given time. We note that some associations may consider certain activities could proceed (e.g. training in small groups) due to your own circumstances and where there is a reduced risk.

Specific program-by-program information follows:

State Titles

State Titles have not been cancelled at this stage.

A decision on Senior State Titles (6-8 June) will be made by Wednesday 15 April. Until that time the following key dates remain:
•    9 April (Thursday) – Senior State Titles entries close
•    14 April – Senior State Titles late entries close ($500 late entry fee applies)

A decision on Junior State Titles (4-6 July) will be made by Wednesday 13 May. Until that time the following key dates remain:

  • 1 May (Friday) – Junior State Titles entries close
  • 5 May – Junior State Titles late entries close ($500 late entry fee applies)

We understand the planning and commitment required in the lead-up to State Titles. However, given the length of time until these competitions commence it was felt that a decision to cancel at this stage was premature.

Premier League

Premier League is the only level of competition netball permitted to continue to train in the immediate term under this guidance (including Premier League umpires) due to the relatively low number of participants. At this stage, and subject to the update which will be provided on 15 April, the competition will be pushed back at least one week to commence on Wednesday 6 May 2020.

Metro League

The Metro League competition will not commence as scheduled and all training should now cease in line with this guidance. The Metro League competition structure and draw is currently being reviewed and all changes will be communicated at the earliest opportunity. Currently the competition will not commence prior to Monday 4 May, subject to the update which will be provided on 15 April.

Regional Leagues

Regional Leagues with finals pending (West / Central West) are advised to postpone finals until such time as Netball NSW recommends competitions re-commence. Regional Leagues yet to commence (including Hunter) are also advised to postpone their competitions until after 2 May, pending further advice.

Swifts & Giants Academies and Emerging Talent Squads

Due to the relatively low number of participants, the QBE Swifts Academy and the Giants Netball Academy will continue to train, as will the NSW Emerging Talent squads.

Competitions already underway

Netball NSW understands and is aware that there are a number of Association competitions that are currently in progress, such as midweek competitions which run all year round. Netball NSW advises that under this guidance, those competitions should be suspended until Saturday 2 May, pending further advice.

There is nothing more important at this time than looking after yourselves and those around you. Netball NSW will be here to assist when we can confidently move forward with a resumption of all activities.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Netball NSW office if you would like clarification on this guidance, further advice or assistance.

Carolyn Campbell, CEO – Netball NSW