Indigenous Surfing Program Gets Funding Boost

he Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program will receive a funding boost of $100, 000 from the Victorian Government in an effort to help build pathways for indigenous youth.

The program, now in its 23rd year, saw over 650 participants over the course of the 2020/21 season and aims to “use surfing as a way to connect Indigenous Victorians with the ocean whilst learning new skills, water safety knowledge and healthy habits.”

In charge of the program is Surfing Victoria indigenous aquatics manager and proud Munna Munna man, Jordie Campbell, who told the National Indigenous Times about the importance of community and what the funding can help them achieve.

“Strong Aboriginal community leadership and engagement in culturally safe and engaging environments that are inclusive, respectful and flexible are the core values of the program to ensure its success,” Campbell said.

“Throughout the program, I got to learn so much about my culture and meet so many amazing people who are now lifelong friends.

“Since then, I have gone from a participant in the program, mentor to young ones and now I work full time at Surfing Victoria running this amazing program.

“[The funding boost] really puts us in a unique place where we will not only be able to consolidate the amazing work we currently do with communities across the state of Victoria but also build on it and hopefully create greater opportunities for the community, particularly in the more regional areas of the coast,” he said.

Victorian minister for community sport, Ros Spence, also spoke with the National Indigenous Times, saying: “from Bells Beach to Cape Woolamai, Victoria is synonymous with surfing, and what better way to make a difference to young people’s lives than engaging Aboriginal youth and building pathways to success.”

According to Sport Victoria, the funding “will help Surfing Victoria increase social participation and employment opportunities for young Indigenous Australians and broaden its partnerships though the program.”

A grant recipient of The Victorian Government’s Together More Active program, the Indigenous Surfing program will also get continued support from VicHealth providing $100,000.

Sport Victoria report the first round of the Together More Active program has seen an investment of $18 million.

“The support for the Surfing Victoria initiative is part of the Government’s work to build a more sustainable sport sector and increase participation for everyone,” read a statement from Sport Victoria.

The next major event on Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous program is the Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles to be held at Bells Beach from the 10th to the 12th of September.