Government and AFL partnership to help Indigenous kids in the Kimberley
Wednesday, January 07 2009 @ 02:56 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
The Australian Government has provided $250,000 to help expand Australian football training and development opportunities for Indigenous youth in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. These activities will be jointly funded by the Australian Football and West Australian Football Commission, which currently provides $200,000 a year for Australian football activities in the Kimberley. The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said sport can play a powerful role in expanding the life chances for young Indigenous people. “The program has the potential to provide new pathways for young Indigenous people in some of the most disadvantage communities in Australia,” Ms Macklin said.
The funding will be used to:
• employ a Community Development Officer, based in Kununurra, to service the East Kimberley region;
• employ an Administrator to manage football activities in the region; and
• employ two AFL Indigenous trainees, in both Kununurra and Broome, to help deliver school-based programs.
Australian football continues to grow rapidly in the Kimberley, with all divisions from school-based leagues to senior leagues on the rise.
AFL General Manager National and International Development David Matthews welcomed the Australian Government's announcement.
“The AFL shares the Australian Government’s goal of ‘closing the gap’ for Indigenous Australians,” Mr Matthews said.
“Some 87,000 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people participate in Australian Football programs and their passion for the game is reflected at the highest level with 82 Indigenous players currently on AFL club lists.
“In partnership with the Australian Government, Australian Football can continue to play a significant role in areas of health, education and leadership throughout the Kimberley region and wider Indigenous communities,” he said.
The Government funds a number of sporting activities in Indigenous communities, including Australian football, as part of its efforts to encourage healthy active lifestyles, build community participation and develop leadership skills.
“Sport and recreation programs prevent diseases such as cardiac disease, diabetes and obesity, as well as having a positive impact on mental health disorders,” Ms Macklin said.
“It also enhances important skills and qualities like discipline, commitment and team work.”
The Government is developing a Closing the Gap Strategy for Business Action to harness the will and commitment of businesses and major sporting bodies like the AFL.
The strategy will identify key areas for business action in closing the gap, including sport.
These programs build on the corporate support of organisations such as Rio Tinto and Qantas which support the AFL Kickstart program for young Indigenous people.