Parents must register for a media pass to photograph kids playing footy

PARENTS are being told that if they want to take pictures of their kids playing junior sport they need to spend up to $80 to register for a “media pass”.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Canterbury-Bankstown District Junior Rugby League competition is insisting on the licence — which includes applying for a Working With Children Check.

They are then issued with a photo ID and allowed to take snaps of their own children. Other parents are supposed to act as watchdogs if parents are taking images without a pass.

Moorebank Rams officials have told parents that even with a pass the images cannot be uploaded onto social media.

“The use of a Media Pass is still at the discretion of ground managers depending on which ground you are playing at,” it has warned.

The NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian, who issued WWCC cards, yesterday labelled the move as “unnecessary” and experts say it’s “extreme”.

Taking photographs of children is legal in NSW provided it is a public place. However, private venues that host sport can ban photography.

A NSW Junior Rugby League spokeswoman said under its rules only those who directly interacted with children required background checks — not spectator photographers.

But its policy does say that cameras aren’t allowed inside “changing areas, showers and toilets”. NSW Office of Sport guidelines say there are no laws restricting photography of children in public spaces during junior matches. Netball NSW says “any financial member … can ask the individual to stop. If the individual refuses, the police may be called to deal with the matter.” Swimming NSW tells parents to “do everything you can to only photograph your child”.

An example of a media pass. Susie Lababidi, mum of three, thinks the media pass is a good idea. Picture: Justin Lloyd

Chester Hill Hornets mother of three Susie Lababidi said she was “all for” the Canterbury-Bankstown media passes

“I love it — anything that is helping to protect our children,” she said.

But Western Sydney University children’s safety researcher Dr Joanne Orlando said the policy was harsh. “It is extreme — but parents worry about this kind of thing. It opens up a bit of a can of worms in terms of the club processes,” she said.

“Who do you count as volunteers? Who is going to police who has a media pass? Is it a volunteer? What if it is grandma and she only comes once a year and wants to take a photo on that day?”

Canterbury-Bankstown District Junior Rugby League attracted headlines last month by fining children $100 for wearing the wrong socks.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegraph and was written by Christopher Harris.