ALSO IN 2001…
There was a controversial ruling by Netball Australia in June. NA decided to ban pregnant players from taking part in all netball games under their control, due to the risk of injury, and the possible legal consequences that could arise from that injury. The player initially affected was Adelaide Ravens’ captain, Trudy Gardner.
PREGNANT NETBALLER IS DELIVERED COURT VICTORY
19 Jul 2001
Pregnant netballer Trudy Gardner will be back on the national league court in Sydney tomorrow night after a federal magistrate ruled yesterday she was fit to play. “I’m very excited and it’s a big relief,” Ms Gardner said outside the court in Adelaide before training with her team last night. “I think I’ve done the right thing.”
Netball Australia banned pregnant players in mid-June because of the risk and potential consequences from injury to pregnant players. Ms Gardner, 28, who is 15-weeks pregnant, sought the injunction so she could play four more games with the team she captains, the Adelaide Ravens. She had not sought to play after her pregnancy reached 20 weeks, even if her team made the semi-finals.
During a video conference linking parties in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, magistrate Mr Murray McKinnis found the concerns of netball Australia were “understandable, but exaggerated” and Ms Gardner should be allowed to compete at the elite level. “Pregnancy is not an illness,” Mr McKinnis said. “At this stage, there is not a sufficient basis to justify restrictions on her participation in netball.
The national executive director of Netball Australia, Ms Pamela Smith, said last night the body had not changed its mind about the ban, and the issue of the risk to pregnant players still had to be resolved. It would be up to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission to decide whether discrimination had occurred. “the judge did not order us to lift the ban,” Ms Smith said. “All he indicated was that based on Trudy’s doctor’s evidence, there were minimal risks and we should allow her on court.”
This case led to the Federal Government introducing guidelines in 2002 clearing the way for pregnant players to continue playing sport. Then in 2003, Trudy Gardner was awarded damages after the Federal Magistrates court found that Netball Australia had discriminated against her.