WPV underlines commitment to safeguarding in collaborative webinar

A webinar on safeguarding was conducted September 20 by World ParaVolley, bringing together 60 participants from all over the world to learn about the importance of safeguarding in sport and the responsibility to ensure that violence, abuse and harassment is not tolerated in any ParaVolley environment.

High-profile key speakers included Sarah Powers-Barnhard, Power Volleyball Club’s Founder and Director, Anne Tiivas OBE, Chairperson of Safe Sport International, and Yetsa Tuakli-Wosornu, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale School of Public Health. Unfortunately, Phil Doorgachurn could not join the panel due to a personal emergency situation before airtime.

The interactive webinar was staged in different parts, with Powers-Barnhard giving an account of her experience of abuse as an athlete, Tiivas outlining policies to enhance the organisation’s involvement in safeguarding, and Tuakli-Wosornu providing examples, statistics and insights on abuse in sport, explaining that three out of four people experience abuse in any form. The participants were allowed to interact and took part in a poll that provided eye-opening information about the topics discussed.

Video credit: Lori Okimura

In his opening address, WPV President Barry Couzner OAM remarked that the organisation has the responsibility to look after the athletes and volunteers in the aspects of protection and support, and that there is a need to create a safe environment, develop policies and provide education to everyone in the paravolley family.

“We have an obligation to look after the volunteers and the athletes. I see responsible safeguarding as having the protection aspect by providing pro-active prevention and education and providing safe environments for all, and the support aspect wherein creating a safe culture and known process for reporting incidents and expressing concern with fair and independent investigation procedures.


“As leaders we are accountable to our World ParaVolley family for developing the best culture in the organisation that respects all other people and this means we must develop policies around safeguarding and behaviour guidelines that minimize risk to our ParaVolley family members, to provide advice and support to all, and to educate, train and communicate with our volunteers about expectations and acceptable behaviours.”

WPV Medical Director Louise Ashcroft highlighted the impact of the webinar and the importance of bringing awareness and campaigning for safeguarding. Ashcroft expressed her gratitude to the three panelists and the moderator for delivering a compelling message to the participants.

“This webinar was extremely valuable to the entire World ParaVolley community. The expert group of panelists for this webinar held a captive audience as they presented a very difficult topic with compassion and hard, cold facts.


“My heartfelt thanks go to Sarah Powers-Barnhard who shared her journey through years of abuse, to Anne Tiivas who provided her expertise on recognising and reporting abuse, as well as how organisations often lack readiness to respond to allegations and ways to remedy these problems. To Dr. Yetsa Tuakli from the Sports Equity Lab for providing clear and eye-opening facts on the high prevalence of this problem in Paralympic sport, outlining the risk factors on an individual, relationship, and cultural level; and for sharing scientific expertise with us. And finally, to Lori Okimura who had the difficult task of moderating the webinar and doing it brilliantly.


“This webinar serves to bring important awareness to safeguarding and gives our organisation a call to action to support witnesses of abuse and be as prepared as we can be.”

  • About the Webinar

    The World ParaVolley Presents… SAFEGUARDING…IT’S EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY is the third in the three-part Mental Health & Performance series.

    Safeguarding our athletes and indeed all our World ParaVolley participants’ mental and physical well-being is of paramount importance.

    What does safeguarding in sport mean, and what does it involve? How can you help to ensure that violence, abuse, and harassment is not tolerated in any ParaVolley environment? It is our collective responsibility to prioritize safeguarding.

    Whether we are athletes, coaches, technical officials, board members, we must recognize, respond, and report those persons who may be violating safeguarding policies and jeopardizing the physical, mental, emotional safety and well-being of others. As an organization it is our responsibility to respond appropriately.

    Share this:
  • Panelists

    Founder and Director, Powers Volleyball Club

    Sarah Powers-Barnhard is the Founder & Director of Powers Volleyball Club in the U.S.A. A member of the U.S. National Volleyball Team & elite professional athlete, she came forward against her former youth club coach for sexual abuse. She’s a leading advocate and ally speaking widely about her survivor story in the hopes of protecting other athletes.

    Sarah helps coaches recognize the signs of grooming, abuse & manipulation of athletes and played a major role in providing a safe space for other abuse victims of her former coach to come forward nearly 30-years after her own ordeal, resulting in a lifetime ban from USA Volleyball and eventually the Amateur Athletic Union that ascended him to a leadership position held for many years. She works with victims’ advocacy and survivor groups speaking frequently in support of legislation to extend statute of limitation laws, fighting for victim’s privacy laws, & educating people to embrace the concept of safeguarding in athletics and in life.

    Chairperson, Safe Sport International

    Anne Tiivas OBE is the Chair of Safe Sport International (SSI), the leading global charity focused on safeguarding athletes of all ages. SSI is known worldwide for its three key areas of focus: research, education, training and consultancy, and athlete voice. Anne is the former Director of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) where she worked for nearly 18 years until September 2019.  In 2016, the CPSU received the UNICEF International Safeguarding Children in Sport award at the Beyond Sport Summit.

    Anne was centrally involved in shaping and monitoring National Safeguarding Standards for Children in Sport in the UK from 2001. As a founding member of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport initiative in 2012 and current Chair of its Advisory Group, she continues to support the development of the project to promote adoption and implementation of the Safeguards in collaboration with UNICEF UK, Loughborough University, and a coalition of sports bodies across the globe. SSI is currently in the process of developing Inclusive Safeguards for Adults in Sport which will build on and link to this work.

    Anne advises international and national sports bodies, international governmental agencies, and other groups, on child and adult protection and safeguarding in sport. She is a Director of the International Olympic Committee Safeguarding Officer Certificate Course. Anne is a member of the ‘I Coach Kids’ (ICK) Global Movement Committee and she has been a member of FIFA’s Expert group on Child Safeguarding. She is passionate about inclusion, child and human rights in sport, as the basis for everyone being able to participate in sport in a safe inclusive and enjoyable environment.

    Anne has collaborated on several European projects on safeguarding in youth sport, most recently for the European Union and Council of Europe’s ‘Child Safeguarding in Sport’ project where SSI was the international expert organization. She was appointed to the Council of Europe’s new Pool of International Experts on Safe Sport in 2022.

    Anne has written extensively on the topic of safeguarding in and through sport and is co-author of a chapter in the 2017 Oxford Textbook of Children’s Sport and Exercise Medicine – Protecting child athletes from medical mismanagement and other forms of (non-accidental) violence in sport. She is a co-author of the 2016 “IOC Consensus Statement: Harassment and Abuse (non-accidental violence) in Sport.”

    Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale School of Public Health

    Yetsa Tuakli-Wosornu, MD, MPH is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale School of Public Health, a board-certified Physiatrist (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician) & serves patients with common orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis, non-surgically. She uses evidence-based musculoskeletal medicine & translational research to relieve pain, prevent injuries, & optimize performance for patients with or without disabilities.

    Yetsa founded the Sports Equity Lab (SELY), an interdisciplinary research group focused on reducing inequities in sport while amplifying sport’s role as a positive change agent in society. She worked as a safeguarding scientist and advocate in various capacities with the International Paralympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee, and other organizations. Her clinical & scientific work stems from her experiences as a professional track and field athlete (women’s long jump, Ghana) combined with being a public health scientist and physician.

    CEO: of YMCA Safeguarding – Australia

    Phil Doorgachurn believes that all children and young people have the right to feel safe and be safe. He is the CEO of YMCA Safeguarding in Australia & the former Director of Safeguarding in Sport at LimeCulture. His cutting-edge research ‘Narratives of Abuse in Sport was awarded the British Olympic Foundation Award.

    Phil consulted for the Children’s Protection Society in Australia, was a Senior Consultant for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in the U.K., and was the past strategic lead for safeguarding at Arsenal FC, British Tennis & Premier League Charitable Fund.

    Phil’s work extends across the globe, delivering keynote speeches at sports conferences. Phil supported the Australian Sports Commission and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, was a member of the UK National Safeguarding Panel in Sport and sits on the Australian Government Advisory Committee for child safeguarding.

    Share this:
  • Share this: