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Hockey Australia has been further rocked by the allegations of negative culture within the women’s programme after high performance director Toni Cumpston quit her role on Friday.

In a statement issued by her lawyers, Cumpston confirmed she would leave her role just months out from the Tokyo Olymmpics after citing that she had lost support of Hockey Australia’s board.

Hockey Australia responded on Friday that it had received Cumpston’s resignation “effective immediately”.

Cumpston, involved in high performance sport in Australia and New Zealand for over two decades, had been in the role since December 2016 and Hockey Australia said that she had been “instrumental in making a raft of positive and significant changes to the delivery of the HA High Performance programme.”

But her departure follows a torrid period for Australian hockey – ever since the women’s squad was announced for the Tokyo Games in early December.

Toni Cumpston

That period saw a plethora of former and ex Hockeyroos speak out over the “toxic” and “destructive” culture engulfing the women’s programme.

It sparked reports of a players’ strike over the way the Perth programme had been conducted over the last 10 years, while Australian newspapers, TV and radio ran stories alluding to bullying and players’ mental health concerns.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported that complaints include “allegations of bullying, body-shaming and homophobic behaviour, which has reportedly led to players developing serious eating disorders and mental health issues.”

Hockey Australia announced its own inquiry last month into the team and its governance. This week a new independent panel was convened to take over the investigation, the findings of which were due to be revealed to the national governing body’s board in February.

Full statement
Toni Cumpston, High Performance Director of Hockey Australia

In a detailed letter delivered earlier today, I have advised the management and Board of Hockey Australia that I will be resigning from the role of High Performance Director, effective from 15 April 2021.

This is not a decision I have made lightly.

I have loved hockey since I was a girl, and I care deeply about my staff and those players who I have worked with at Hockey Australia since I commenced my role in 2016. I love my job and while I am very mindful this is an Olympic year, I feel I have been left with no choice but to resign from my position as it is untenable to continue in the present circumstances.

I was brought into Hockey Australia to address many of the problems that have existed within the organisation for a long period, including serious allegations of bullying and behavioural issues.

I have worked assiduously to improve the culture of Hockey Australia and our national sides, and in doing so I have always received strong support and encouragement from management and the Board.

However, in a very short space of time it has become evident that I no longer have the support of the Board of Hockey Australia to continue this work. I was left with no option but to engage Mr Josh Bornstein of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to assist in finalising my departure from the organisation.

Despite my resignation, I will continue to be involved in the independent inquiry into concerns raised with Hockey Australia and the upcoming Sport Integrity Australia investigation, both of which I believe are vital to the wellbeing of our staff, players and our sport.

I am proud of what I have achieved during my time at Hockey Australia and I am deeply disappointed that I will no longer be involved with our country’s national hockey teams. I wish all players and staff the very best for the upcoming Olympics and I greatly hope our hard work pays off and that our teams are rewarded for their efforts – you deserve every success.

I will not be making any further comment.