On Reconciliation Day, AFL NSW/ACT takes action
The theme of Reconciliation Day in 2021 is: “More than a word. Reconciliation takes action”.
AFL NSW/ACT demonstrated its commitment to achieving equality for Indigenous people on 31 May as it hosted the inaugural AFL Indigenous Academies Health Event.
This event saw hundreds of Indigenous school students descend upon Blacktown International Sports Park to receive complementary health screening for high-risk chronic diseases.
An exposition of experts from the following health categories was available for students to explore following their checks:
- Mental health
- Alcohol and other drugs
- Sexual health
- Oral health
- Social and emotional wellbeing support
- Physical health
After the health tests, students ate lunch provided by AFL NSW/ACT and enjoyed a scavenger hunt and other games on Blacktown International Sports Park.
The event was supported by Western Sydney ITC (Integrated Team Care), which provides support to more than 600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic health conditions. In addition to education and awareness, Western Sydney ITC aims to overcome barriers between primary and secondary care, physical and mental health care, and health and social care so chronic disease sufferers can receive holistic care they need.
Western Sydney ITC’s Manager, Terrieanne Whitting, said the health event was a valuable first step for the students to improve their health. “The whole point of today is to pre-screen. A lot of Aboriginal students and youth don’t have regular eye and hearing checks until there’s an issue,” Ms Whitting said.
“Western Sydney is one of the highest regions for Indigenous people suffering diabetes and respiratory issues. A lot of those screened today have asthma or a respiratory condition, and a lot are starting to vape. By coming today, we could make them aware of potential health implications associated with vaping.”
Students whose screening results show them to be at risk of chronic disease or illness will work with Western Sydney ITC to progress their education and treatment as necessary.
About AFL Indigenous Academies
Since 2006 the AFL NSW/ACT Indigenous Academies has delivered specific cultural, educational and leadership programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students across seven schools in western Sydney.
Each week, the program delivers seven lunchtime sessions, 12 in-class mentoring support sessions, two after school programs and four full-class education sessions. The aim of the program is to increase the rate of Indigenous schooling completion. There is no component specific to Australian rules football.
More than 150 students are enrolled in the program in 2021, with a further 50-100 students informally attending sessions. Students volunteer for the program at the beginning of the school year.
More than 2,000 students have been involved in the Indigenous Academies since its inception, with around 80 per cent of them completing their HSC.
The AFL Indigenous Academies is supported by National Indigenous Australians Agency Indigenous Advancement Strategy.