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Senate committee calls on federal government to set concussion guidelines for contact sports
A Senate (Australian) committee has recommended the federal government consider developing a national strategy to reduce concussions in contact sports.
The recommendation is one of 13 in an inquiry into concussions and repeated head trauma that was tabled in the Senate on Tuesday night by the deputy chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Janet Rice.
“The committee heard tragic stories from athletes whose lives have been shattered because of concussion and from who have lost loved ones because of the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE,” Senator Rice told the chamber.
The inquiry’s report recommends the government consider developing binding return to play protocols to protect sportspeople from head injuries.
“Consideration should be given to whether any existing government bodies would be best placed to monitor, oversee and/or enforce concussion-related rules and return to play protocols in Australian sports,” the report recommends.
At present, Australia’s elite sporting codes have different periods that players must sit out after sustaining a concussion.
The AFL stipulates a minimum of 12 days and the NRL requires 11.
There are no guidelines for junior and grassroots sports.
The AFL is facing a number of class actions by former players who are suing the league for damages caused by concussion injuries.
Former players Danny Frawley and Shane Tuck, who both took their own lives, and Polly Farmer, who was initially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, all died with CTE.
CTE is a brain disorder caused by repeated head injuries, which causes the death of nerve cells in the brain and can only be diagnosed after death.