The Australian Olympic Committee has agreed to six more recommendations to ensure it continues to improve its culture ©Getty Images

A review by the Ethics Centre has found that the culture of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) "has significantly improved" following a critical assessment almost five years ago and has agreed to implement six recommendations to continue building on its success.

In 2017, the Ethics Centre made 17 recommendations after finding a culture that was "not aligned with the ideals that the organisation aspires to uphold."

The process involved interviews with the AOC executive, AOC staff and National Federations, evaluating previous culture surveys and governance documents that had specific recommendations, and surveys with AOC staff and federations.

Over 90 per cent of AOC staff responded while over 40 per cent of federation members answered.

Respondents identified words like "improving", "positive", "respectful", "professional" and "progressive" that could be used to describe the organisation.

The AOC said its success is down to implementing a cultural plan, improving decision-making transparency and having a greater robust ethics framework.

The review pointed out a focus on the new AOC values, the work of the chief executive Matt Carroll, and confidence in leadership and improved collaboration and communication were also crucial reasons behind the change of culture.

"We are all extremely proud of what we have achieved and the new values that are now embedded in our organisation," Matt Carroll, the chief executive of the AOC said.

"The review some five years ago made for uncomfortable reading, but we were transparent about the task we faced and committed to turning things around.

"When you have staff and our member sports describing us as a completely different place and a new organisation, that is gratifying."

AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said he was
AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said he was "proud" of the progress made by the organisation ©Getty Images

The survey of staff members and the National Federations showed several improvements in workplace relations and communication.

Respect between the staff members jumped significantly with those saying they can have difficult conversations in a constructive and respectful manner rising from 31 per cent to 83 per cent and those acknowledging that there is mutual trust and respect increasing from 44 per cent to 77 per cent.

Recognition for accomplishments and contributions rose from 44 per cent to 77 per cent while 75 per cent said the executive team model the organisations, which is substantially better than the 31 per cent nearly five years earlier.

The response from the NFs was similarly positive with 91 per cent insisting the AOC communicates well with them and that their sport had a positive experience during the previous Olympics.

The former increased from 53 per cent and the latter grew from 33 per cent.

The number of federations suggesting they are satisfied with their relationship with the AOC also totalled 91 per cent after standing at 47 per cent in 2017.

Over 80 per cent of federations now feel regular feedback can be given to the AOC and they feel comfortable doing so.

Previously just over a quarter of federations felt they could provide feedback and just 40 per cent felt comfortable to do it.

In response to the question of whether the AOC acts on feedback, 68 per cent claimed it does which is a rise from a fifth.

"The AOC faced squarely into those aspects of its culture that needed addressing," John Neil, the Ethics Centre director of innovation, said.

"They acted decisively but only after taking a systemic view, which enabled them to focus in on the root causes.

"This is what makes culture change so difficult for many organisations.

National Federations believe the AOC is more receptive to feedback than it was five years ago ©Getty Images
National Federations believe the AOC is more receptive to feedback than it was five years ago ©Getty Images

"Often approaches to culture change barely scratch the surface.

"The AOC, in undertaking a deep review and by acting on the recommendations with strong leadership they were able to face courageously into the mirror that our findings presented."

The AOC also accepted six recommendations by the Ethics Centre to continue building on its success, including annual culture check-ups.

It has agreed to enhance internal communication with catch-ups across groups, forums and to enable people to share stories about values.

It has also been recommended for the AOC to change its leadership approach by introducing a mentoring programme and leadership coaching model.

The AOC is also planning to create opportunities for secondments - where there is the chance to work on a separate team in the same organisation or a different organisation - and to establish formal awards and recognition programmes.

A culture and wellbeing council will also be launched which will have monthly meetings and involve the chief executive.

"There's no such thing as perfection and we will continue to work hard to build on what we have done," Carroll said.

"The AOC presents an attractive destination for talented people, but we are conscious of the need to provide pathways for our staff to develop and advance their careers.

"We now have a transparent process of performance review to ensure people are appropriately rewarded and have those development opportunities.

"Given the relatively small size of our organisation, there are some inherent constraints, but it's up to us to work through how we manage this.

"The restoration of trust with staff and member sports is such a crucial thing."