Sports stars and officials could be called before a new inquiry to examine the long-term effects of concussion and repeated head trauma in contact sports at all levels.
The Senate on Thursday voted to establish a parliamentary investigation amid growing concerns about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – the neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head trauma and concussion.
Medical experts, sports officials and athletes from Australia’s most popular sports, including the AFL and NRL, could appear before the probe.
The inquiry would begin in the new year and examine the concussion guidelines of major sporting codes and the long-term consequences of head trauma.
The physical and financial supports available for players affected by the long-term impacts of concussions will also be investigated.
Greens senator Lidia Thorpe said Australia was falling behind the USA and UK in this space.
“We need to protect our elite and community athletes, so everyone in this country can continue to celebrate the games we love,” she said.
“Sportspeople at all levels must be informed about the symptoms of concussion and be encouraged to speak up, without being penalised for it.”
Senator Thorpe said the motion had the support of Sports Minister Anika Wells and opposition sports spokeswoman, Senator Anne Ruston.
“Noongar man Graham Farmer was one of the greatest players in AFL history,” she said.
“Unfortunately, he was also the first AFL player diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
“We need to make sure we don’t have a new generation of athletes carrying the same injury.”