Most people taking images of children at sporting events are doing so for acceptable reasons and are using appropriate methods, for example a parent videoing their child at a sports presentation, grandparents photographing their grandchild on the field during play, or a professional photographer taking photos for a club.
There are important considerations for sports clubs when acquiring and displaying images of children and young people on social media, websites, online, in publications or other mediums.
In Australia, generally speaking, there is no law restricting photography of people (including children) in public spaces as long as the images are not:
- indecent (such as 'up skirt' or 'downblouse' photographs taken covertly in change rooms or toilets)
- being used for voyeurism or made for the purpose of observing and visually recording a person's genital or anal region
- protected by a court order (eg. child custody or witness protection)
- being for commercial purposes (person's likeness is used to endorse or entice people to buy a product).
Photos of a child (including your own child) also contravene Criminal Codes and censorship laws if the child is photographed in a provocative or sexual manner.
Where a sporting event is held on a club's private property, privately owned land, a school or council owned facilities, the owner of private property or venue is able to restrict, ban or require permission of photography anywhere in their venue (e.g. some council owned facilities will not allow mobile phones or cameras in change rooms or toilets). Where a sporting event is held on private property not owned by the organisers, it is good practice to determine a mutually agreed photographing policy.
If a person is taking photographs inappropriately (e.g. breaching the restrictions or ban in place for that private property or venue), then venue management should request the person to stop. If the person refuses, the police or security may be called to escort them off the property. If anyone has reasonable concerns that a person (adult or child) is taking photographs that are indecent or in areas like toilets/changerooms should contact the police.
Strategies - acquiring Images
- Clearly outline and publicise what is considered appropriate behaviour in taking images and what is considered appropriate image content.
- Do not allow photographers (professional photographers, spectators, fans, coaches or members of the media) unsupervised access to children.
- Ensure the coach informs any athlete and parent(s) if the coach wants to video the athlete as a tool to analyse and improve performance.
- Obtain the consent of parent /guardian and their agreement to be present before approving photo/video sessions outside the event venue or at the home of a child. Where possible, have the photo taken at the event venue.
- Provide details of who to contact within the club or organisation if concerns or complaints of inappropriate behaviour in taking images or content are raised. Ensure that the contact person understands the application of relevant legislation and policies (or where to find it).
- Provide members of the media and professional photographers with an identification pass to be worn for the duration of major/large events. Photographers and members of the media need to comply with the law too. Some people may be required to get a Working with Children Card and some people may not be – depending on their role and the state they are working in.
Strategies - displaying images
- Consider using models or illustrations for promotional / advertising purposes.
- Obtain permission from the child's parent/guardian prior to taking the images of a child or young person. Ensure that all concerned are aware of the way in which the image is to be used and how long the image will be displayed.
- If an image is used avoid naming the child. If this is not possible avoid using both a first name and surname.
- Avoid displaying personal information such as residential address, email address or telephone numbers if images are being posted on websites or distributed in publications.
- Do not display information about hobbies, likes/dislikes, school, etc as this information has the potential to be used as grooming tools by offenders or other persons.
- Only use appropriate images of the child, relevant to the sport or activity, and ensure that the athlete/child is suitably clothed. Images of athletes participating in sports or activities that involve minimal clothing (e.g. swimming and gymnastics) or unusual body positions/poses could potentially be misused.
- Reduce the ability for direct copying of pictures from a website to another source (i.e. disable the 'right mouse click' function).
- Clearly outline in a written contract to photographers who are contracted or paid to take photos, who will retain the images taken, include arrangements made for negatives, digital file and proofs and outline any restrictions for use and sale.
- Provide details of who to contact and what to do if concerns or complaints of inappropriate image use are raised.
Learn more about online safety: Photos, Videos and Social Media, Office of eSafety Commissioner
You can download a fact sheet of this article here.
**2021 UPDATE NOTICE** - please note that the information above was produced as guidance for sporting organisations a number of years ago and as such is currently under review to ensure it is up to date and reflects recent regulatory and legal changes to the community sport landscape.
As soon as updated versions are available - they will be provided, together with links to up to date source material for your reference. In the meantime however, please note that this information remains guidance only. You should check with the relevant State/Territory organisations local to you to ensure you are accessing up to date information.
It remains the responsibility of each individual club/sporting organisation to ensure that their club policies and procedures are contemporary, up to date and meet your compliance and legal requirements. PBTR takes no responsibility for any content that is out of date or inaccurate due to the passage of time.