Athletics Australia has officially launched its three-year Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan(RAP) at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square this week.
The RAP marks a major milestone for AA as an organisation in its journey towards supporting reconciliation for all Australians, joining over a thousand other organisations that now have Reconciliation Action Plans.
The launch was not only about acknowledging the rich history of Indigenous people and Torres Strait Islanders in the sport of Athletics, but also celebrating this history.
“Athletics Australia is committed to reconciliation, decreasing barriers to athletic participation, and growing athletics as a vibrant sport that brings together people of all cultures and backgrounds,” AA CEO, Darren Gocher said.
“Through strategic planning, we will make our athletic clubs, competitions, training environments, state and national teams, talent identification processes, coach education courses, school-based programs and organisation as a whole culturally engaged, welcoming and safe.”
Speaking at the launch was Kyle Vander Kuyp, who remains Australia’s greatest ever 110m Hurdler and a member of the Athletics Australia RAP committee.
An athlete of the Worimi and Yuin tribe of North and South Coast New South Wales, Vander-Kuyp still holds the Australian 110m Hurdles record of 13.29 he set in Göteborg, Sweden back in 1995.
Vander- Kuyp’s dominance in Australia was matched only by his longevity, winning 12 national open titles between 1992 and 2006, and representing Australia at four Commonwealth Games, four world championships and two Olympic Games, where he made the final of the Atlanta Games.
“It has been great to be a part of the RAP journey undertaken by Athletics Australia,” Vander Kuyp said.
“We have such a rich history of indigenous talent that I really want to see Australia celebrate.
“But it is also time to look forward and find that next batch of talent; the next Cathy, the next Kyle, the next Patrick, and that’s why I’m motivated to keep working with Athletics Australia and help create the right pathways to allow our future generations to connect and fall in love with the sport like I did.”
Athletics Australia has a long history of engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community, beginning in 1999 with the management of the Indigenous Sports Scholarship Program.
However, through the following four pillars of its RAP, AA aims to deepen and strengthen this engagement.
Athletics Australia is committed to making deep and meaningful connections and the sport has a greater presence in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities through proactive outreach, education, communication and engagement. We will provide leadership and support to Australian Member Associations and Clubs as they forge positive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities within their states.
We will embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage into our business in order for our sport to grow its participation reach and excel at world athletics competitions and events. We will celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes and ensure our policies and practices are respectful of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage.
Athletics Australia will increase opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to participate in and excel at athletics as athletes, coaches, officials, spectators, administrators and board members. We will achieve this by creating and communicating clear pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples entering the sport from the grassroots to elite levels (for athletes and coaches) and from entry-level to high-level management (employment).
Athletics Australia will strive to learn and grow as an organisation and report our findings, with the hope that will take the right steps forward towards Reconciliation.