Netball Australia and the Sunshine Coast Lightning strongly condemn the series of anti-social, and bullying posts on social media directed towards Sunshine Coast Lightning defender Kate Walsh over the last week.
Walsh has been subjected to multiple bullying remarks and posts on various social media platforms following the Round 5 Suncorp Super Netball match between the Sunshine Coast Lightning and NSW Swifts.
Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said any behaviour like this is unacceptable and will always be taken with extreme caution and concern.
“Netball Australia will not tolerate any form of threats, bullying, or otherwise directed at our players, coaches, umpires and officials,” Ryan said.
“Kate, first and foremost, is a human being who has the right to compete and play netball without being subjected to this type of cruel behaviour.
“Providing every one of our athletes with a safe and secure environment in which to perform is our number one priority and this extends into social media.
“We recognise the many benefits and positives that come along with social media, but this is not one of them and as a netball community we will not tolerate this type of behaviour. We ask all our fans to be respectful when engaging on social media.”
Where Netball Australia is able to identify the individuals concerned, appropriate action will be taken within its control.
Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO Danielle Smith also condemned the events over the past week.
“Sunshine Coast Lightning has zero tolerance for bullying and harassment in any form, and our club and Kate appreciate the collaboration between ourselves, Netball Australia, the Australian Netball Players’ Association and the relevant authorities to address this unacceptable behaviour”, Smith said.
“Lightning is also providing Kate with support from many people at the Club, including our wellbeing manager and psychologist. Kate has shown tremendous resilience and is focusing on our home match this Sunday against GIANTS netball at USC Stadium.”
Kate Walsh shared her sentiments on the events of the past week.
“I just want to say thank you so much to the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Netball Australia, ANPA and every single person that has reached out in support. I really hope this experience can start some positive conversations around the netball community and the wider audience on cyber bullying and harassment on social media platforms, and if anyone is going through something themselves right now, know that they too can reach out and gain help.
In November of 2021, Netball Australia and the Australian Netball Players Association joined with 20 other sporting codes to reduce targeted online abuse of athletes.
Netball Australia have officially signed the Online Safety Statement of Commitment in response to athletes, officials and staff across sporting codes being increasingly subjected to online abuse and continues to work with the Australian Netball Players Association on strategies to support this.