Rules, safety and ethics
Officials provide participants with leadership and guidance, facilitating and ensuring that the competition is conducted in a safe and fair manner.
Qualities such as integrity, honesty, trustworthiness and respect are integral to the role of the official. The official’s actions should be linked to these qualities, including the manner in which they behave and relate to others prior to, during and following competition, how they present as an official and how they go about undertaking their role.
It is important for officials to understand the important role that they play, and the impact they have on participants and others. An official needs to display ethical behaviour at all times, and show integrity, empathy and respect to others. Officials should be aware of the needs of various groups, including juniors, athletes with a disability, Aboriginal athletes and other cultural groups. Most sporting organisations will have policies, such as junior sport policies, member and/or child protection policies and disability action plans that officials should become familiar with. Officials can contribute to an inclusive environment within a sport.
Knowledge and application of sport rules and laws
Officials have the responsibility to enforce both the rules of the particular sport and to abide by all relevant laws.
Numerous resources are available to assist officials in developing their skills;
- Officiating Rule Books/Law Books, Manuals, CDs/DVDs
- Officiating Coordinators / Senior Officials
- The Internet
Get in touch with your local sporting organization to find out how you can access these materials.
Areas of law affecting sports officials
- Anti-Discrimination Laws
- Child-Protection Laws
- Tort of Trespass to a Person (Assault and Battery)
- Criminal Law
A good sports official should know the rules of their sport and apply them fairly. Similarly, they should be aware of how the law may impact on the sporting field and also act fairly in this regards.
Code of behaviour
All sports have a code of behaviour for the various participants in the sport, including officials. It is important that officials are aware of the code of conduct and endeavour to adhere to it at all times.
A national code of behaviour for officials has been developed by the Australian Sports Commission. Adhering to a code of behaviour affirms the official’s support for the concepts of integrity, trust, honesty, responsibility, respect, safety, professionalism, equality and equity.
All officials have a responsibility to promote a professional and positive image of officiating.
There are a number of expectations of officials. These include being:
- trustworthy – honest and impartial
- responsible – have integrity and take a role seriously
- prepared for their role – prepared physically and mentally for the task
- competent – have and are further developing the skills for the tasks
Each official becomes the ‘face’ of officiating at competitions. People often judge all officials by how an individual official behaves, hence the need for professional and responsible approaches when dealing with participants, coaches, administrators and others involved with competitions.
Some sporting organisations have a uniform that officials are expected to wear while officiating at sanctioned of formal competition. It is important that officials present in a manner that portrays officiating in a positive, professional and respected manner, including having a clean uniform (including footwear), and a generally neat appearance.
Officials should be appropriately dressed prior to and following the competition. The principles of neatness and tidiness also apply in these situations. People have high expectations of officials, and expect them to present as professional. A well-presented official arriving at the competition is making a statement to the participants, administrators and others, prior to the commencement of any competition.
The official should be punctual, arriving at the competition with enough time to prepare for the officiating role.
Avoid using your mobile phone directly before, during and after the match until your duties as an official have been completed.
Last updated: 27 October 2022
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