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ASC celebrates Indigenous Australians’ contribution to sport

Aboriginal Flag raising at the AIS
Aboriginal Flag raising at the AIS for NAIDOC 2018

10 Jul 2018


The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) is acknowledging the outstanding contribution Indigenous Australians make to sport with NAIDOC Week celebrations at its facilities across the country this week.

Following an official Welcome to Country at the AIS campus in Canberra today, ASC Chief Executive Officer Kate Palmer spoke about significant involvement of Indigenous Australians in sport.

The Commission has also created its own Acknowledgement of Country, installed on plaques in its Australian offices:


I wish to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today and to pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

I wish to also recognise the outstanding contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to sport in Australia and to celebrate the power of sport to promote reconciliation and reduce inequality.


NAIDOC Week, from 8–15 July, involves celebrations to mark the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s theme is Because of Her, We Can! – highlighting the active and significant roles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play at community, local, state and national levels.

Kate Palmer and Beki Smith“There are some wonderful female Indigenous sporting icons, the likes of Evonne Goolagong-Cawley in tennis and Cathy Freeman in athletics, and ASC wants to encourage more participation at all levels in sport and physical activity,” Palmer said.

“I look at a sport like netball which has taken up the challenge to address diversity, with significant leadership from Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM. Marcia was Australia’s first Indigenous netball representative and the first Indigenous AIS scholarship athlete, now she is a driving force behind initiatives such as the Netball Australia Indigenous high performance camp held at the AIS and the inaugural Indigenous Round held last weekend.”

As part of its Reconciliation Action Plan, the ASC is committed to better engaging with Indigenous Australians, and helping create opportunities to improve Indigenous health and wellbeing. It has commissioned research into Indigenous Australians’ participation in sports and physical activities.

Part of this research draws on statistics taken from AusPlay – Australia’s biggest sport and physical recreation survey. The research also involved focus groups and interviews across urban, regional and remote communities with Indigenous people aged 15 years and over.

Initial research shows sport and physical activity has positive benefits on areas such as health, wellbeing, education and employment as well as contributing to reconciliation of indigenous culture in the wider community.

“Indigenous athletes have been part of so many inspiring sporting moments and the ASC is intent on furthering this research to help sport identify and create more participation opportunities.”

  • ASC Research: Indigenous Australians' participation in sports and physical activities: Part 1 and Part 2 are available on the Clearinghouse for Sport

Above: ASC Chief Executive Kate Palmer talks to Indigenous Australian race walker Beki Smith. Below: Ngunnawal elder Don Bell gives a Welcome to Country at the AIS.

Welcome to Country - Don Bell

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