Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Australian Sporting Heroes give young people a kick-start

There is no doubting Australia’s passion for sport. As a nation, we have significantly more than our fair share of successful and inspirational sports stars.

The new $1 million Australian Sporting Heroes initiative builds on this passion for sport. Australian sporting personalities will be out in the community mentoring and developing our young people.

These sporting heroes will be fantastic role models for our young people. High profile athletes from various sports will be travelling to communities and schools, particularly in disadvantaged areas, to interact with the young people and highlight the potential that everyone has within themselves.

These athletes have reached the pinnacle of their sport and are seen as both role models and leaders in the Australian community – their success can inspire other young Australians to strive for excellence.

The initiative, funded under the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, will support several projects for young people in areas across Australia.

I am particularly pleased that the following organisations have come on board:

  • SportConnect Australia and Athletic Development Australia – using elite athletes in mentoring programs to build youth leadership in areas, like Victoria’s La Trobe Valley and regional communities in south-eastern NSW;
  • Port Adelaide Football Club – extending their Power Community Youth Program to a wider range of schools in metropolitan and rural areas, particularly in SA;
  • Victorian Institute of Sport – a program to encourage youth to get more involved in their community;
  • Corrugation Road – will produce a television show on Imparja Television using leading Indigenous sportspeople as role models that will be broadcast to the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania; and
  • George Smith – Brumbies and Wallabies representative will be visiting communities, talking to schools and community groups.

While playing sport provides well known health benefits, it also means people can learn about leadership, teamwork, volunteering and having a go – all the sorts of skills that we find in strong, healthy and prosperous communities.

Importantly, playing sport also helps young people develop confidence and self-esteem, it can also help steer them away from trouble, reducing the risk of drug or alcohol abuse.

Communities who are interested in the program should contact the head office of the Department of Family and Community Services in their respective states.