Athletics Australia and the University of Melbourne have continued their commitment to providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students this week, with 35 secondary school-aged athletes taking part in the week-long Raise the Bar Academy.
Descending on Melbourne from some of the most remote regions of the nation, including Groote Eylandt (NT), Geraldton (WA) and Coober Pedy (SA), the participants represent seven of the eight Australian states and territories and are set to enter Year 10 or Year 11 for the upcoming academic year.
Instituted in 2015, the Raise the Bar Academy provides attendees with an athletics and academic experience that fosters their engagement with continued education when they return to their community. It provides them with an opportunity to engage with both athlete and educational role models, including, Rio 2016 Paralympian Torita Isaac, long jumper Robbie Crowther and hurdler Shannon McCann.
“We are proud to continue its partnership with the University of Melbourne in providing opportunities for students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent,” Phil Jones, Athletics Australia Chief Executive Officer, said.
“Across the course of a week, attending students will be afforded the chance to continue their enjoyment of athletics under the guidance of Accredited Athletics Coaches, whilst accessing career advice seminars, sports science and medicine workshops, university orientation sessions and the many outstanding initiatives of Murrup Barak, the University of Melbourne’s home away from home for Indigenous students.”
“Athletics Australia is proud of the history that our sport has with Australia’s first peoples and through the work of initiatives such as the Raise the Bar Academy and the development of our Reconciliation Action Plan, I am confident we will continue to encourage a bright future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
“The program is not just focused on the very best track and field athletes because the communities we are trying to get our student participants from don’t necessarily have access to organised sport in track and field,” Carl Junot, University of Melbourne Program Manager, added.
“If a student described to us in their application that they really enjoyed their school carnival, which involved athletics, then that is good enough for us. The Raise the Bar Academy is for anybody who is interested in the sport and can articulate their desire to further their education as well. It’s all encompassing, which is very important.
The Raise the Bar Academy will culminate with a celebratory dinner at the University of Melbourne tonight, with national 110m hurdles record holder Kyle van der Kuyp, marathoner and business professional Bianca Graham and sports physiotherapist Blayne Arnold to participate in a motivating panel discussion.
The Raise the Bar Academy is a key pillar of the partnership between the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Athletics Australia for the delivery of the Athletics for the Outback program.
For more information on the Athletics for the Outback program, please click here.
To view photos from the Raise the Bar Academy, please click here.