Harassment and abuse have gone unchecked in Victoria’s racing industry, with victims subjected to ritualised violence and physical and sexual assaults, the racing watchdog has found.
The Racing Integrity Commissioner on Wednesday issued a long-awaited report into victim support and complaint processes in the industry, saying it has fostered a community filled with people who have lived and breathed racing for generations.
However, the sense of community has led to an “environment where harassment, abuse and assault have taken place unchecked”, the report said.
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“The dark flip side of loyalty has been a culture of silence across the industry that is underpinned by an historical and widespread, tacit discouragement of reporting,” the commissioner’s report said.
“At times, those who have raised complaints have been the subject of overt retaliation.
“A number hold the perception that perpetrators of abuse have been protected.”
A commissioner has issued a report into victim support and complaints in Victoria’s racing industry. Credit: Getty Images
Integrity commissioner Sean Carroll, in his review of the industry, heard devastating accounts of physical and sexual abuse including rape, sexual and physical assault, humiliating initiation practices, ritualised violence, grooming and harassment.
Children as young as 12 and young recruits were among the victims, and some of the abuse took place in recent years, the review found.
Racing Minister Anthony Carbines said the allegations from victims were unacceptable and deeply distressing.
“Their voices have been heard and will drive meaningful and enduring change,” he said in a statement.
Greyhound Racing Victoria chief executive Stuart Laing apologised to survivors for the harm caused by past failures.
“GRV commits to learning from the report, so we can play our part in driving a better future for the Victorian racing industry,” he said.
Harness Racing Victoria also offered an apology on behalf of the industry while vowing change.
“We are committed to setting higher standards to promote a safer and more inclusive industry,” chief executive Matt Isaacs said.
Racing Victoria chief executive Andrew Jones said the final report was extensive and confronting, featuring accounts of experiences over the past 50 years that no one should be subjected to.
“While the review covered all three codes, it is clear there were unacceptable practices in the thoroughbred racing industry,” he said.
“While the industry has come a long way, there are still issues to deal with.”
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