On 1 March 2019 the laws in NSW regulating the combat sport industry changed.
The changes to the Combat Sports Act 2013 (the Act) and the Combat Sports Regulation 2014 (the Regulation) are intended to promote combatant health and safety and reduce the administrative burden for the industry and Government.
The Combat Sports Authority conducted a review of the Act and considered the recommendations of the Deputy State Coroner arising from the inquest into the death of professional boxer David Browne, as well as information gained through widespread public consultation across NSW.
The Authority also received advice from a Medical Advisory Committee involving medical experts who provided a medical perspective on the Deputy State Coroner’s recommendations.
What do the changes mean for me?
The changes to the Act and Regulation need to be understood by everyone in the combat sports industry. The most important changes to note are:
Removal of the 21-day cooling off period for professional combatants
The cooling off period has been removed. This means that people applying for first time registration as a professional combatant will not have to wait 21 days before they can be registered, which is currently the case.
New powers for trainers and seconds to ask a referee to stop a contest
The law now requires referees to immediately stop a contest if a trainer or second asks the referee to stop a contest in any circumstances where they have a concern around the health or safety of their combatant.
Before the contest, the referee, trainers and seconds may also agree the way, including by a signal, by which a request to stop a contest will be made.
The combatant’s trainers and seconds generally know their combatant better than anyone else. These changes empower trainers or seconds, if they are in any way worried about the welfare of their combatant, to ask a referee to stop a contest, which the referee must do immediately.
Changes to medical suspensions
Medical practitioners are now required to note any medical suspensions imposed on a combatant in the combatant’s medical record book and the relevant pre or post-contest medical examination form.
Medical practitioners are now allowed by law to determine that a combatant is unfit to engage in a combat sport contest or sparring until a specified medical examination is conducted and/or until a specified date.
Renewal provisions for combatants, industry participants and promoters have now been introduced. Registered persons must apply to renew their registration before the registration is due to expire. Applicants must lodge all required information no earlier than 8 weeks before the registration expiry date and pay the appropriate fee.
If an application is made before the expiry of the registration, the registration classes already in force will remain in force until the Authority notifies the person of a decision to renew or refuse the registration.
New conditions imposed on combat sport contest permits
The law now imposes additional conditions on combat sport contest permits granted on or after 1 March 2019. The most important changes to note are:
Injured Combatant Evacuation Plan
Promoters (as a condition of the contest permit) must provide to the Combat Sports Authority an Injured Combatant Evacuation Plan no later than 5 days before the day of the contest.
Promoters must use the Injured Combatant Evacuation Plan template approved by the Authority which is designed to ensure a prompt and co-ordinated response in the case of a serious injury requiring evacuation of an injured combatant.
Promoters are now required to organise, and participate in, a pre-contest briefing with each referee and attending medical practitioner, and a combat sport inspector, before any contest can commence. At the pre-contest briefing the following must be discussed:
- The Injured Combatant Evacuation Plan
- The title/name of the specific sports rules for each contest
- Combat Sports Authority rules (Section 107 of the Act).
This will ensure that those people primarily responsible for the contest clearly understand the rules applicable to the contest and the injured combatant emergency procedures.
Sports rules notification to the Combat Sports Authority
Promoters (as a condition of the contest permit) must provide the Combat Sports Authority, in the way set out by the Authority, the title of the sports rules that relate to each combat sport involved in the combat sport contest. This must be provided no later than 5 days before the day of the combat sport contest.
The promoter must also lodge the final fight card with the Authority, in the way set out by the Authority, no later than 5 days before the day of the contest. The final fight card must include the title (including name and version) of the sports rules that apply to each specific contest on the card.