AIS Athlete mentors supporting sport’s Reconciliation journey

Australian Institute of Sport

Athlete mentors supporting sport’s Reconciliation journey

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has today committed to the next steps on its own Reconciliation journey, while also expanding its Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Share a Yarn program to include First Nations athletes as mentors for greater cultural awareness in Australian sport.

Coinciding with National Reconciliation Week, May 27-June 3, the ASC has today announced:

  • its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), outlining the next phase of the ASC’s Reconciliation journey for the next two years, and
  • four First Nations athlete mentors who will work with 10 athlete ambassadors for its 2022 AIS Share a Yarn program, creating meaningful connections between sport and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

ASC CEO Kieren Perkins OAM urged everyone in Australian sport to take a personal role in Reconciliation.

“The ASC is committed to leading Reconciliation. Through sport we have opportunities to reduce inequality, to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians and to unite communities. To make a difference and to make lasting change, every single one of us needs to stand up and play a part,” Perkins said.

“The ASC Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan builds on our previous Reflect RAP, ensuring our own workforce can develop a better understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories and to create a workplace culture where diversity is welcomed, valued and supported. More than that, it is a broader commitment to working with sport, from grassroots to elite, to make sure we continue to progress Reconciliation.

“Our work is reflected in projects such as the Barkly Regional Deal, where Sport Australia is supporting the Northern Territory Government and the Barkly Regional Council to improve access to sport across the community. It’s also represented in programs such as AIS Share a Yarn.”

In its third year, AIS Share a Yarn aims to enhance athlete knowledge and understanding of First Nations culture, helping them to become advocates within their own sporting communities.

For the first time, Share a Yarn is introducing First Nations athlete mentors: Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic basketballer Danny Morseu; multiple Australian representative Tanisha Stanton; former Australian netballer Josie Janz-Dawson; and two-time Olympic boxer Brad Hore.

The mentors will help the 10 athlete ambassadors roll out important initiatives with their sport such as developing Reconciliation Action Plans, immersing First Nations culture into sporting events or delivering talks on racial discrimination.

Janz-Dawson said she’d been working with First Nations People for a long time building positive self-confidence and she welcomed the opportunity to work with athlete allies for Reconciliation.

“A lot of people have great intention but still lack the awareness and understanding of how to create culturally safe and appropriate spaces to ensure we are being inclusive to everyone,” Janz-Dawson said. “It’s time we open up this conversation and make it everyone’s business, we (as First Nations People) cannot do it all on our own.”

Hore is now an Indigenous artist and sports like boxing and volleyball have incorporated his designs into their national uniforms.

“I would have loved a program like Share a Yarn when I was an athlete, where I could learn and be supported by First Nations leaders,” Hore said. “It’s such a privilege for me to be able to guide the athletes on this program, to assist them not only to be great within their sport but to provide them skills to be great community leaders, is such a privilege.”

Olympic race walker Beki Smith, a Yuin woman, was an inaugural Share a Yarn athlete ambassador and now coordinates the program for the AIS.

“It’s wonderful to see athletes from all different backgrounds nominate themselves to be part Share a Yarn so they can

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