Former Wagga Swim Club coach Barb Blondinau has broken her silence after being cleared of bullying and harassment charges.
Blondinau was found guilty of six counts of bullying, harassment and failure to treat children under her care with dignity and respect in December, but that has been set aside on appeal.
An independent tribunal found that ‘while all harassment or bullying is “serious”, some is obviously more serious than others’ and they could not determine any wrongdoing by Blondinau.
“It is impossible for Ms Blondinau to know (and therefore for this Appeals Tribunal to know) why her conduct ought be regarded as being at the “serious” end of the spectrum in the absence of any findings (or sufficient particulars) as to the precise conduct that has been found to be proved,” the findings state.
The appeals tribunal also found she was orginially denied natural justice.
Blondinau said she did not want to speak publicly while the case was ongoing, but felt it was now the right time to.
However she still doesn’t believe there are winners from the situation.
“There was no relief and I didn’t feel happy (after winning the appeal),” she said.
“I don’t know what I expected because when you’re fighting for something and it comes down in your favour I thought there would be a yay but there was no yay.
“There was no winners and the damage had been done.”
Initially it was recommended that Swimming NSW suspend the long-serving coach for six months and that Blondinau attend counselling to address her behaviour towards children and complete a Child Safe Training course.
Despite appealing that decision, and therefore entitled to continue in her role, Blondinau sat out for the required six months and completed the courses, believing it was the best way to deal with the situation.
She has since walked away from the sport.
Blondinau was the coach of the club for 16 years, but after being embroiled in the saga for over 18 months she decided it was in the best interest of everyone to move forward.
“I just felt that they (Wagga Swim Club) needed a new start and I think I did too,” Blondinau said
“I wanted to go in another direction.”
Now she’s undertaking a psychology degree.