Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Indigenous Runners Successful in New York Marathon

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator The Hon Mark Arbib, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development
    Minister for Sport and
    The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health & Regional Services Delivery and Member for Lingiari

Four young men from remote Northern Australia have become the nation’s first Aboriginal marathon team to complete the world-famous New York City Marathon.

The first-time marathoners – Charlie Maher, Caleb Hart, Juan Darwin and Joseph Davies – were congratulated on their success by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, and the Minister for Sport and Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Mark Arbib today.

“I am delighted that all four runners completed this gruelling race,” Mr Snowdon said.

“This is quite an achievement; not only was this their first marathon, but they completed it in very respectable times after having been participating in the sport for less than one year.”

Ms Macklin said after conquering the New York City Marathon these four men will now have the confidence to act as healthy lifestyle role models for young people within their communities.

“Now that they have taken on a marathon, these four men have the skills and knowledge to train other young people in their communities and inspire others to lead healthier lifestyles,” Ms Macklin said.

The Ministers also congratulated former world champion marathon runner Robert de Castella, who has been the driving force behind the Indigenous Marathon Project and Health Education Program.

The program, part of de Castella’s SmartStart for Kids Limited initiative, aims to revitalise running among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and to establish educational programs that encourage a healthy lifestyle, exercise and good nutrition.

A squad of young Aboriginal people aged between 18 and 30 were selected from remote communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia to receive comprehensive training and education under de Castella and his SmartStart team.

The four runners who competed in New York on 7 November were selected from this squad.

Mr Snowdon said the Australian Government was providing $500,000 over two years to SmartStart to help support the marathon project and develop healthy lifestyle training under the Australian Government’s COAG Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health National Partnership commitments.

“I am most impressed at the hard work and dedication shown by everyone associated with this program,” Mr Snowdon said.

Senator Arbib said he was extremely proud of the dedication and determination the runners had shown in the lead up to the marathon and in the event itself.

“These young men are an inspiration to their communities. The dedication they showed in completing the marathon can be transferred to all areas of life. I’m sure we will be seeing much more of these young men in the future,” Senator Arbib said

Mr Snowdon said the runners had made an epic journey, from some of the remotest parts of Australia to the streets of New York, and their achievement underlined the importance of promoting good health in our Indigenous population.

“The Australian Government is committed to tackling the challenges of improving Indigenous health. These young men have shown us the way and deserve the admiration of all Australians,” Mr Snowdon said.