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Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Olympians And Paralympians Unveil Athlete-Drafted Connection to Country Plan for Brisbane 2032 And Beyond

Australian High Performance Sport has recommitted to increasing opportunities and improving the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes as part of a plan unveiled by First Nations Olympians and Paralympians in Brisbane.

The Connection to Country Action Plan has been developed by athletes to elevate and amplify the work already underway in Australian High Performance Sport, so that meaningful change is seen by Brisbane 2032.

The Olympians and Paralympians on hand to unveil the plan in the host city of Brisbane 2032, Meanjin, on Yuggera and Turrbal Country, included Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams OLY, Paris 2024 boxer Marissa Williamson Pohlman, and two-time Paralympian Torita Blake PLY.

Connection to Country Launch in Brisbane 2

Williams, who represented Australia at two Olympic Games in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, said: “This strategy being led by Indigenous athletes, both current and former, is really important because all of a sudden you have a connection that exceeds your sporting code and your high performance level. It's gone into culture and into country and, to see it be led by such powerful, important people is really exciting.”

Williamson Pohlman will become the first Indigenous woman to represent Australia in boxing at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and said: “It just makes me so proud being in a room full of active Aboriginal athletes like myself to release the Connection to Country plan.

“You can't be what you can't see, so to have role models, like myself, for young ones to look up to is what it's all about.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group at Connection to Country Launch

Two-time Olympian Patrick Johnson OLY, who chaired the advisory group which drafted Connection to Country, said the action plan seeks to build on the work already underway in Australian High Performance Sport.

“This is an action plan created by First Nations people for First Nations people and I’m proud that Australian High Performance Sport is leading the world in creating a culturally safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Mr Johnson said.

“The Connection to Country is saying to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that you have a place in Australian High Performance Sport.”

“Since the 1960s, 60 Olympic and 16 Paralympic known First Nations athletes have proudly represented Australia at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The time is now to ensure that representation increases on the road to Brisbane 2032 and beyond.”

The development of the plan has been supported by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) as part of Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy.

ASC Executive General Manager of AIS Performance, Matti Clements said: “Sport is an incredible vehicle for reconciliation and to reduce inequality.

“I am proud that 51 sports and organisations aligned with Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy, including the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Institute of Sport, are committed to working together to create culturally-safe, culturally-connected, and culturally-inclusive environments where all of our athletes can win well and inspire Australians.”

Lydia Williams, Patrick Johnson, Harley Windsor, Marissa Williamson Polhman, Brad Hore, Nova Peris, Ben Austin, Danny Morseu, and Torita Blake at the Connection to Country Launch in Brisbane.