ESSA Statement: Internship guidelines underway to protect sports science professionals

Earlier this week, Sydney Football Club released a job posting which listed a “strength and conditioning assistant” as a voluntary position that requested university degree-level requirements for the unpaid role.

Although the club has since apologised and acknowledged the error, this scenario remains one of many in a long list of qualified sports science professionals not being rightfully or appropriately paid for their work.

“This is an ongoing problem in the sports science industry and enough is enough,” says Anita Hobson-Powell, Chief Executive Officer for Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), the accrediting body for sports scientists.

“We have seen significant changes over the years in terms of ensuring regulation of our sports science and high performance professionals, however we need to continue to protect and support these professionals as they undertake internships or work experience – an essential requirement for their careers.”

In response to this gap in the industry, ESSA have been working on a Sports Science Internship Guidelines document to aid both the intern and the employer.

“The main aim of the document is to ensure the internship experience is of mutual benefit to the intern and employer. This is the cornerstone of any internship, if there is no mutual benefit to the intern and organisation, then the relationship is considered normal work,” explains Dr Peter Fowler, ESSA’s Sports Science Membership Development Officer.

The document will provide the following:
  1. Recommendations for the provision of quality graduate internships
  2. guide to establishing an intern’s employment status and rights

“We expect to have these guidelines finalised and available shortly,” adds Dr Fowler.