Dr Catherine Ainsworth is at the centre of driving integrity at Harness Racing Victoria, with the veterinarian Deputy Chair of HRV's Board and Chairperson of its Integrity Sub-Committee.
She spoke with Integrity Matters about her involvement in the sport and what integrity means to her.
How you got involved in harness racing?
I grew up and went to school in Narrandera NSW. The local trainers used to operate from the Narrandera Showgrounds and I walked past it twice a day on my way to school. I would call in frequently just to hang around and watch. I regularly went to Friday night trots at Leeton and sometimes to Junee or Wagga with my father. Dad had a few horses owned with a mate and the best of these did race at Harold Park. After I did vet science I was in equine practice in the Macedon Ranges for several years and saw plenty of standardbreds.
Can you explain your role as the Integrity Sub-Committee Chairperson?
The Integrity Sub-Committee allows the HRV board to take a deeper look at the HRV integrity framework and emerging issues. It has three HRV directors, Dayle Brown and key integrity staff. As Chairperson I work with GM of Integrity Brent Fisher to make sure that the agenda facilitates a joint discussion on topics that matter and where the board members can add value. HRV's integrity system is made up of people, expenditure and policy/processes. The best people and processes, using intelligence and innovation, ensure that HRV has the biggest impact for its integrity budget.
What are some of the functions of the Integrity Sub-Committee and, without going into specifics, can you give an outline on what topics/themes may be discussed?
HRV's integrity systems are regularly reviewed by ORIC and VRIB and we assess HRV's reporting against those standards. I am really proud of HRV's performance in these external reviews. The Integrity Sub-Committee looks at the outcome of past initiatives, trends in management of cases, what we can learn from other sports and jurisdictions. We consider future resources, areas of focus and application of new technology. It is important that HRV analyses emerging issues and prepares for them. A good example of this is the increasing community scrutiny of horse racing and the need for HRV's animal welfare education, monitoring and compliance to meet these expectations to safeguard the future of the industry.
What does integrity mean to you?
Integrity is all about fairness, honesty, mutual respect and a level playing field for participants. I want to know that the rules are written in clear language that everyone can understand and that HRV provides education for participants about the acceptable standards. HRV must then be consistent in enforcing compliance with the rules, take action based on evidence and have skilled and diligent people at all levels. It is also about transparency and being willing and able to explain your decisions.